Leveraging Public Assistance to Promote Financial Inclusion in America
In a report out today, the Asset Building Program at New America argues that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)—the national welfare program designed to help move low-income families to employment and reduce dependency on the safety net—has features that keep families in the financial margins and make it harder to get out of poverty.
“Leveraging Public Assistance to Promote Financial Inclusion: A New Approach for TANF” notes that from asset caps to transaction fees, TANF not only fails to support saving and financial inclusion, but also often actively discourages it.
“Financial inclusion among America’s most vulnerable families will remain elusive until public policy is seen as part of the problem, not just the solution. As the government pursues ideas for building financial inclusion, it should start by getting rid of the barriers to doing so that are baked into our public assistance programs,” said Rachel Black, senior policy analyst with the Asset Building Program. “This paper lays out common-sense alternatives to remove barriers and promote financial inclusion.”