Unlock knows only too well that financial exclusion has a profoundly negative effect on people with convictions and their families. However, evidence of the nature, scale and extent of the barriers faced by people with a criminal record was required.
The challenges people face in seeking to re-establish their financial lives after a prison sentence are little understood by legislators or those responsible for policy in the private and public sectors. There was a gap in the literature regarding this issue and new evidence was required to tip the balance to reform in key areas such as insurance, bank accounts and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
As an upshot of this, Unlock conducted a research project, in partnership with the Prison Reform Trust, to gain evidence of the issues that we know from our everyday work are faced by people with convictions. The research set out to enhance understanding of the scale and nature of financial exclusion amongst individuals and families affected by a criminal conviction throughout the stages of the criminal justice system and in later life. The project also set out to utilise this enhanced understanding to influence a broad range of commercial and government policy and practice.
Time is Money: financial responsibility after prison was published in late 2010. This report greatly enhanced understanding of the effects of criminal convictions on financial exclusion and also set out practical, achievable recommendations that would make significant improvements.
Since publication, Unlock has met with policy makers in both government and industry, including Lord McNally (Justice Minister and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords), HM Inspectorate of Prisons and the Financial Services Authority.
Results of this work include the agreement to fast track a crucial piece of insurance law through the House of Lords which had previously sat dormant, and the FSA writing to NOMS to highlight the need for people in prison to be able to access their external bank accounts.
Time is Money: financial responsibility after prison (Unlock & PRT, October 2010)
Time is Money launch – Read about the media work that we did as part of the launch of the report
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