Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Celebrating financial capability in Scotland

Last night stakeholders and guests at the Scottish Parliament celebrated financial capability work taking place across Scotland, as part of UK "Financial Capability Week".

The event was hosted by Ayrshire MSP, Ruth Maguire, and heard from Yvonne MacDermid, Chair of the Scottish Financial Capability Partnership, Govan Law Centre's Mike Dailly, Alison Hardie of Young Scot, Alison Watson of Shelter Scotland, Simon Watson of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Jonathan Baxter, Head Teacher and pupils from Flora Stevenson Primary School

As part of #TalkMoneyScotland week, Govan Law Centre will be providing a free financial capability and money advice session at Homes for Good, 97 Main Street in Glasgow’s Bridgeton this Thursday 16 November 2017 from 10am to 3pm. No appointment is necessary.

GLC's Principal Solicitor Mike Dailly said: "Good money skills are always key to resolving financial challenges and difficulties. But most importantly they are essential as a preventative tool: to avoid being scammed, fleeced, being hit with excessive fees and charges, borrowing at uncompetitive rates, buying financial products you don’t need or aren’t suitable for you, or ultimately just getting a bad deal as a consumer".

"Key life events – for good or for bad – will affect all of us throughout our life and having some financial resilience and support can make an unbelievable difference in a crisis. Knowledge truly is power, and we are a point in time where we can make financial capability skills and knowledge freely and instantly accessible to consumers when they need it if we utlise new opportunities next year from Opening Banking and the new Payment Services Directive".

Mike's talk is available here (opens as a PDF).

Friday, 10 November 2017

Law as a tool for social change & justice: UK Law Centres Network 2017 annual conference

The annual conference of the UK Law Centres Network (LCN) took place for this first time in Glasgow this week, with representatives from law centres from Scotland, England and Northern Ireland in attendance.

Conference was opened by Scottish Minister for Legal Affairs and Communities, Annabelle Ewing MSP, who also read a personal welcome note to delegates from Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP.

Delegates were welcomed to a Civic Reception in Glasgow City Council by the Leader of the Council, Cllr Susan Aitken, and Depute Lord Provost, Cllr Philip Braat; and heard from the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Gordon Jackson Q.C. and former President of the Law Society of Scotland, Austin Lafferty.

The two-day event took place over 9 and 10 November 2017, and included a wide ranging plenary discussion on the law as a tool for social change. Conference heard from Matthew Smerdon, Chief Executive of the Legal Education Foundation, and Annabel Davidson Knight of Collaborate and the University of Newcastle.

GLC's Principal Solicitor, Mike Dailly addressing conference argued that unemployment, poverty, discrimination, poor housing and destitution were never accidental. They were the product of political choices, and the politics of omission.  In his view it was the job of law centres to campaign for change, and until change happened, use the law as best as possible to mitigate detriment to the communities law centres served.  Mike's speech to the LCN conference is available here (opens as a PDF)

Thursday, 2 November 2017

People struggling to make ends meet will suffer from today's UK base rate rise

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England today voted 7-2 today to increase the UK base interest rate by 0.25% to 0.5%. What does this mean for those with problem debts in the UK? GLC's Mike Dailly believes there are a lot more losers than winners from the Bank's decision today.

"The Money Advice Service estimates there are roughly 700,000 adults with problem debts in Scotland, with 8.3 million people struggling to cope financially across the UK. Those already on a financial knife-edge are the ones who will be tipped over, and this will ultimately result in defaults for credit cards, loans, mortgages and bills - with the extra charges that come with this - as consumer borrowing costs more, and those already squeezed can't cope".

“Millions of people across the UK have had to borrow to cope with low wages over the last few years, the gig economy and exponential household prices for food and bills. A rate rise right can only tip them over the edge when they’re already seriously struggling and financially squeezed". 

"It’s fully understandable that the Bank of England wants to put a brake on inflation running at 3 per cent this year. However,  increasing the cost of borrowing won’t calm inflation. The reality is Scotland and the UK relies on imports, and you get inflation when the pound is devalued. It's down 13% since the Brexit referendum, and may get weaker still.”

"While the Bank points to a historic 42 year low unemployment rate, this belies the fact real wages have been cut, and there is much more job insecurity and unpredictable pay with zero hours contracts. The cost of living has risen exponentially in the UK for utilities and food; in Scotland private sector rents have increase by 25% on average in the last 6 years, double the rate of inflation".

"Increasing the base rate, means that millions of people already struggling to cope will have to pay more for their debt. We've had a 10% growth in consumer borrowing - now sitting at over £200bn - as people borrow at low rates to make up shortfalls from the real economy.  It's fair to say, millions of people across the UK are now being hit twice; their incomes are cut due to the weak pound, and now their borrowings cost more because of the Bank's interest rate rise". 

"In reality, the economic circumstances which led to the Bank to cut interest rates to 0.25 last August haven't changed and there is no cogent monetary or economic basis for today's hike".

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Is the buy-to-let market a property bubble waiting to burst?

GLC's Principal Solicitor, Mike Dailly writes: "SCOTLAND’S private rented sector is a phenomenon. It has trebled in size over the last 15 years and now makes up over 15 per cent of all Scottish households. For our cities the story is more profound.  

Scottish Government figures published last month show that private lets represent 19 per cent of all homes in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Perth. For Dundee the figure rises to 23 per cent and peaks at 26 per cent in Edinburgh.

How did this happen? Almost half a million homes have been lost from Scotland’s social rented sector since the right to buy was introduced in 1980. While the Scottish Parliament ended that right last July, the impact coupled with the growth of the buy-to-let mortgage market has fuelled the private let sector".  Read the full column in The Herald here (Saturday, 7 October 2017).

Friday, 6 October 2017

GLC's Principal Solicitor appointed to Scottish Government's Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Action Group

A panel of homelessness experts from across Scotland met for the first time yesterday (5 October 2017)  as work to address the challenges of rough sleeping, and how temporary accommodation can best be utilised, officially got underway.

Announced as part of the Programme for Government last month, the short-term Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group came together with the immediate task of outlining urgent recommendations to minimise rough sleeping this winter.

The group, which draws on expertise from across the sector, will examine how the Scottish Government’s commitment to end rough sleeping can be achieved and how best a new £50 million fund can support this.  Membership of the Action Group includes:
  • Jon Sparkes, chief executive, Crisis (chair)
  • Russell Barr, former moderator, Church of Scotland
  • Maggie Brunjes, Glasgow Homelessness Network
  • Mike Dailly, Govan Law Centre
  • David Duke, Street Soccer Scotland
  • Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Heriot Watt University
  • Josh Littlejohn, Social Bite
  • Lorraine McGrath, Simon Community Scotland/Street Wise
  • Susanne Miller, Glasgow City Council
  • John Mills, Fife Council & ALACHO
  • Shona Stephen, Queens Cross Housing Association
  • Alison Watson, Shelter Scotland
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: "The Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group will be recommending immediate steps we can take to minimise rough sleeping, both this winter and for good, as well as ways to transform temporary accommodation. The members bring a wide range of expertise, experience and enthusiasm and I know they will provide invaluable advice".

"The group will be engaging with all partners who deal with homelessness, including in local authorities and the third sector, so we can harness the wealth of knowledge available. We are committed to ending rough sleeping, preventing homelessness, and transforming outcomes for those who experience it. The action group and the new £50m fund are important steps in achieving this."