Some exciting news this week, as Alzheimer’s Society and Age UK have become the latest charities to come on board with the campaign. Since we launched just over three months ago we have grown from a very small steering group of concerned charities, consumer groups and businesses to a core of almost 30 organisations united by the fundamental belief that it is a consumer’s right to choose without penalty how they are contacted by service providers.
For me, the interesting thing is how diverse our supporting organisations are. Some of our new supporters, such as Age UK, Dementia UK, the Stroke Association and Independent Age, reflect some of the results of our research which showed that older people are disproportionally disadvantaged by the drive to do everything digitally. But at the other end of the age spectrum, new supporters pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group) and MyBnk are committed to educating younger people about finance, going into schools and discussing with pupils how to budget and save, avoid getting into debt and generally improving their money management.
The general impression is that younger people, who have grown up with the internet, would be completely at ease with managing their bank accounts and bills online. But Keep Me Posted’s independent research shows 36 per cent of those aged 15-24 still prefer to view their bank statements on paper, and both pfeg and MyBnk have told us that crucially this can help younger people keep on top of their finances. Banks and service providers need to realise it’s not a question of the “old fogeys” not getting to grips with new technology – not having the choice of paper information affects all ages.
And while we’re talking of service providers, I’ve already been making appointments to see some of the biggest names in banking and utilities asking them to sign up too –I’ll let you know how it goes over the next few weeks. In the meantime, why not ask your own suppliers to take up the pledge? You can find a draft letter on this website if you need some extra help.
Our steering committee meets today, so I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again and hearing what progress they’ve been making. And do keep getting in touch - we’re always keen to hear your experiences, whether you’ve been transferred to online bills without your knowledge, or are paying through the nose because you want paper communications. We have some influential groups supporting us now, but it’s the individuals’ stories that will help us make a difference.