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Banking on exclusion: Data disclosure and geographies of UK personal lending markets

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nick Henry, Professor Jane Pollard, Emeritus Professor Mike Coombes



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


In 2013 the UK Government announced that seven of the nation’s largest banks had agreed to publish their lending data at the local level across Great Britain. The release of such area based lending data has been welcomed by advocacy groups and policy makers keen to better understand and remedy geographies of financial exclusion. This paper makes three contributions to debates about financial exclusion. First, it provides the first exploratory spatial analysis of the personal lending data made available; it scrutinises the parameters and robustness of the dataset and evaluates the extent to which the data increases transparency in UK personal lending markets. Second, it uses the data to provide a geographical overview of patterns of personal lending across Great Britain. Third, it uses this analysis to revisit the analytical and political limitations of ‘open data’ in addressing the relationship between access to finance and economic marginalisation. Although a binary policy imaginary of ‘inclusion-exclusion’ has historically driven advocacy for data disclosure, recent literatures on financial exclusion generate the need for more complex and variegated understandings of economic marginalisation. The paper questions the relationship between transparency and data disclosure, the policy push for financial inclusion, and patterns of indebtedness and economic marginalisation in a world where ‘fringe finance’ has become mainstream. Drawing on these literatures, this analysis suggests that data disclosure, and the transparency it affords, is a necessary but not sufficient tool in understanding the distributional implications of variegated access to credit.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Henry ND, Pollard JS, Sissons P, Ferreira J, Coombes M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environment and Planning A

Year: 2017

Volume: 49

Issue: 9

Pages: 2046-2064

Print publication date: 01/09/2017

Online publication date: 12/06/2017

Acceptance date: 16/05/2017

Date deposited: 16/05/2017

ISSN (print): 0308-518X

ISSN (electronic): 1472-3409

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0308518X17713992


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