This report was commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to inform its first Triennial Review of inequalities and human rights in the UK. It provides evidence about inequalities and exclusion in access to financial services and affordable utilities.

We deal with each policy area in separate sections of the report and our focus is on providing statistical and other evidence about the extent of exclusion and inequalities, and how this plays out across the different equality groups.

Financial exclusion refers to the inability, difficulty or reluctance to access appropriate mainstream financial services. The effects can include an inability to take part in day-to-day financial transactions; the inability to cope with unexpected events or planned lifestyle changes; and having to pay more for certain products and services.

Given the essentially universal provision of energy and water services in the UK, the central issue when it comes to equality in the utilities is cost and affordability. In recent years, the primary concern has been around fuel poverty and the serious negative effects this can have on the health and well-being of certain groups.