11:10am Tuesday 8th May 2012
By Beverley Morrison
Martin Lewis has been so successful at keeping an eye on our finances and campaigning against injustice I wondered if he’d ever consider standing for Parliament.
But the TV finance expert who bravely took on the banks over PPI (Personal Protection Insurance) and is lobbying David Cameron for compulsory Financial Education in schools, won’t be standing for election any time soon.
“I would never want to be an MP – they get a huge amount of flack,” said Martin with a shudder.
“I think I probably have more influence doing what I am doing now than sitting on the back benches in Parliament, trying to obey some party whip.
“But I am in politics with a small ‘p’ – it’s part of my life, giving evidence to parliamentary select committees, talking to MP’s, campaigning and trying to get things to happen.”
The 39 year old broadcast journalist became famous as the “tell-it-like-it-is” financial expert on shows like ITV’s Daybreak and Lorraine and the BBC’s Watchdog. His hugely popular website www.moneysavingexpert.com has 13 million monthly users who get advice on all aspects of personal finance.
But it’s Martin’s campaigns on behalf of British consumers that has made his reputation. So much so, even David Cameron felt obliged to personally answer Martin’s recent open letter calling for Financial Education to be a compulsory subject in schools.
“I am trying to get Financial Education on the basic curriculum - it is one of my core campaigns at the moment,” said Martin.
“And I think when I have done that then, to be honest, I can probably retire – my work will be done.”
Martin is passionate about helping people understand their personal finances, and believes educating children and young people on how to manage their money is key to a healthier financial future for society as a whole.
“We live in quite a polarised economy at the moment: some people are struggling very much, but there are other people who are doing well,” said Martin.
“My concern is with the ongoing provision of information to make sure people are up to speed with what’s happening - like tax credits about to drop and water bills going up.
“The key is keeping on top of it all and telling people to act and not be apathetic. Because if you don’t act, you will have the money taken out of your pocket.”
One of Martin’s other big concerns at the moment is the notion that buying your home is better than renting. He says owning a property long term is still a very good investment but we shouldn’t assume that investing your money in property is “as safe as houses.”
“I’ve ranted for a long time about property porn programmes on television that suggest home ownership is a good thing – that is a right and a must – when it isn’t necessarily right for everybody’s finances.”
“In the past we were told to borrow as much as the mortgage company would lend you – that’s what caused the credit crunch!”
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