The penny drops podcast: Pride month and LGBT+ finances

For many countries around the world, June marks Pride month, which sees the LGBT+ community celebrate in a number of different ways.

In this month's episode we talk about why Pride and the events associated with it are still so important today and touch on some of the financial issues and barriers faced by LGBT+ people across key life stages.

What will we be talking about?

  • Why Pride is celebrated and the celebrations taking place
  • Common financial problems experienced by the LGBT+ community
  • Creating a more inclusive workplace environment for LGBT+ people
  • Key financial milestones, including renting or buying a property, relationships, marriage and civil partnerships
  • The financial implications and considerations for starting a family
  • Key issues faced by the ageing LBGT+ demographic, including pensions and retirement
  • Where to go for further support and guidance on financial issues

Who is our guest?

Our guest is Paul Martin OBE, the CEO of the LGBT Foundation, a national charity delivering advice, support and information services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities.

All views and opinions expressed in the podcast are those of the guest and not of Royal London.

Listen to the podcast now

Introduction voiceover
Welcome to The Penny Drops, the Royal London Podcast series simplifying finance to help more people like you make better informed money decisions. Royal London recommends you seek professional, independent financial advice before or making financial decisions. All views and opinions expressed are those of the guests and not of Royal London.

Andrea Fox
Hello, I'm Andrea Fox, a journalist, broadcaster, and the host of The Penny Drops, where I speak to some of the best financial experts out there. Now, this podcast was recorded during the coronavirus outbreak, so please excuse any sound issues as we are recording remotely. And for the latest information on financial supports and benefits, visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Now for many countries around the world, June marks Pride Month, which sees the LGBT plus community celebrate in a number of different ways. Today, we're going to be finding out why Pride Month and the events associated with it are still so important and touching on some of the financial issues and barriers faced by LGBT+ people across key life stages.

Joining me today is Paul Martin OBE, the CEO of the LGBT Foundation, a national charity delivering advice, support and information services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities. Paul, thank you so much for joining me.

Paul Martin OBE
You're welcome. Thank you for inviting me.

Andrea Fox
Mr Martin OB, I should say. Now, first of all, we've touched on the LGBT foundation, but in your words, can you tell us about the work that you do?

Paul Martin OBE
Sure. So, I think the LGBT Foundation, we're based in Manchester, but we cover the whole of the UK, and we provide a wide range of advice, information, and support services, as well as doing research and policy work and other forms of kind of like engagement work with LGBT communities and our allies. So, we're probably one of the largest service providers of our kind in the country. We support about 40,000 people every year. And one of the things I can tell you is our services are required even more so now during lockdown than ever before. So, our helpline, which was founded back in 1975 by a group of people working from somebody's back bedroom, interestingly, in its 45th year, it went back to being delivered from people's homes and the number of callers more than doubled last year. And unfortunately, the severity of the calls significantly increased, and we were literally being a lifeline for people during their hours of need. So, our organisation is an incredibly diverse organisation. We're working with the widest range of LGBT people that we possibly can. And we're also doing a lot of equality work and awareness raising work, such as this podcast.

Andrea Fox
Yes, exactly. I mean, obviously a vital organisation. And as we've just mentioned, June is recognised as Pride Month by many. But who exactly celebrating? Why are they celebrating and what sort of the celebrations that are taking place this year?

Paul Martin OBE
So, the reason that Pride Month is in June is linked to the Stonewall riots that took place back in New York, where members of the LGBT community were regularly being harassed by the police. And there was a hot omni night in June where people decided to fight back. That's why Pride Month is celebrated in June to commemorate the Stonewall riots. But of course, there are Pride events happening up and down the country. And even though a lot of those Pride events have been cancelled, organisers are still organised to do things online and remotely. So, there's going to be a lot of activity taking place over the month of June.

Andrea Fox
Yeah, a lot of celebration as well, hopefully as best we can. And I wanted to talk about some laws, because I think the UK is quite advanced in terms of its protection laws surrounding the LGBT+ community in comparison to some parts of the world. But can you speak on how far we've come as a country and some of the landmarks for the LGBT community?

Paul Martin OBE
For sure, I think for many years we had everything to be very proud of in this country in terms of the equality legislation that existed for LGBT people. But sadly, over the last couple of years, we have been going down the lead tables. That's mainly to do with a relatively hostile environment in this country in relation to trans and nonbinary people. There have been a lot of restrictions that have been put in place and there's been a lot of legislation that has been sort of blocked. So, for example, we should by now have seen a complete review and updating of the Gender Recognition Act. This government has decided not to do that. We also know that the government are going to be announcing a review of conversion therapy. I think that there are a number of areas that we are not as progressive as we once were, but I think that compared to other parts of the world, yes, of course, we have many protections that have been quite hard won and hard fought. But there are plenty of places in the world where there's been gay by sexual and trans people will be murdered for loving who they love and living in their true identity.

So we do need to be aware that globally it can still be a very hostile environment for many LGBT people.

Andrea Fox
Yeah. And we may have discriminatory laws to offer more support than other countries, as you just mentioned, to the LGBT+ community. But often the more difficult thing is that shifting of attitudes, isn't it?

What's your experience of where we're talking, where we're at with prejudice around today?

Paul Martin OBE
Well, I think that it's still there. And I think that the reason why my organization's services are still needed is because many people are rejected for being who they are. It's not unusual for LGBT people to come out and then be abandoned by their families, rejected by their friends, discriminated against in their workplace or in their schools. So, I think that if you look at a number of the media stories at the moment, there's often a very, very hostile or discriminatory element to those. If you think about the actual fact of having to come out as being gay, bisexual or trans, you automatically are signalling to the world that somehow you are different from the norm. You can't see my inverted commas with my fingers when I say that. But I think that what's really important is to remember that whilst things do get better and I'd very much want your listeners to think positively about the changes that have taken place and the inclusion and equality that does exist, there are still, for many people, a ways to go before they can feel safe, to sort of like tell the world who they are and who they love.

Andrea Fox
Yes, you can't see me nodding along, but I'm also nodding along.

Paul Martin OBE
I'm sure you are.

Andrea Fox
I think a lot of people will be surprised to hear this. I was surprised to learn this. But the LGBT community faces problems in their financial lives simply as a result of their sexual orientation or their gender identity. So, what has the LGBT foundation recognised as the sort of most common financial problems raised by the community?

Paul Martin OBE
Well, I think that I was trying to find a research report that we did last year, and I have found a summary. It was connected to our older people's programme that I know we're going to talk about later on. So, this is mainly answered by people slightly older than the usual cohort of our research project. But you and your listeners might be surprised to learn that a significant number of LGBT people are living on benefits and often living below the poverty line. I think that there's been a lot of focus over the years about the Pink Pound, and that's been recently upgraded to be more inclusive by being called the Rainbow Pound. And I think it's true that there are some members of our community that are doing very nicely and are earning a nice amount of money and have fairly high levels of disposable income. And there's certainly a whole industry catered to sort of like people with those high levels of disposable income. But there are still plenty, just as many, if not more, LGBT people that are living in poverty that are claiming benefits, that are not earning as much as their heterosexual peers. And I think particularly when we start to look at different parts of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community, if we start thinking about trans and nonbinary people, I think 63% of trans people are unemployed and unable to get a job because of the discrimination they experience in employment because of their gender identity. And there are plenty of LGBT people that leave school as quickly as they possibly can because of discrimination they've experienced and therefore don't go on to further or higher education. So therefore, don't have the same level of qualifications as their heterosexual peers. And I think that there are generally quite a large number of people of colour LGBT people and bi people, and maybe some of the LGBT people more at the margins of LGBT communities that are much more likely to be disadvantaged than anyone else and experience poverty in ways that non-LGBT people don't. And I think that it's also fair to say that quite a lot of LGBT people don't have savings, don't own their own houses. And whilst this is an emerging evidence base, so I wouldn't be able to sort of put conclusive evidence forward to sort of like, say that LGBT people are more disadvantaged financially than other parts of the community, certainly the emerging evidence base suggests that that might be the case.

Andrea Fox
Yeah. And let's touch on the workplace and some stats here, because we mentioned the pay gap on this podcast before, and I think it's typically something we associate with the gender debate, but there's reportedly a 16% pay gap between LGBT+ professionals and their straight counterparts. So, what do you think is the result of this? Could people maybe hide their identity when it comes to work?

Paul Martin OBE
I think that's often the case, but I think that sometimes it's because, as I've already mentioned, people have had such discrimination at school. The thing that they wanted to do was leave as early as possible and not continue with their education. So quite often that puts people in sort of a part of the jobs market that isn't well paid.

We also know that LGBT people will often leave home as early as they can and move away to sort of like, start their life over and live the life that they want to. And so often you find LGBT people in seasonal jobs or transient jobs. There's a lot of people from the LGBT community in the hospitality trades, and of course, there's many LGBT people have been incredibly disadvantaged through lockdown and people either losing their jobs or being on furlough. And so therefore, I suspect that this situation is only growing.

But what I would say is that there needs to be much more research undertaken in this area. But I think there are reasons because of people's sexual orientation and gender identity that can disadvantage them in the workplace. Now, I'm pretty certain that some of your listers will be shaking their heads and going, that's not true, that's not the story for me. And I think that that's absolutely the correct position to be in, because for many members of the LGBT community, they have been able to kind of, like, get qualifications and have been able to get kind of like good jobs. And they might often be the people that we hear about. They might well be the people that we see on social media. They may well be the people whose stories are told. And what I'm talking about, and I think what you're asking about, are the people whose stories are not quite so visible, that are not so in the public gaze. And so therefore, these are the stories of the people who are hidden. These are the stories that go untold.

Andrea Fox
Yeah. And there's obviously still so much work to be done. But sticking with the workplace for a second, how can companies foster a more inclusive working environment for LGBT+ communities?

Paul Martin OBE
Well, there are lots of ways I have to say that the private sector, many parts of the private sector, have really stepped up to the plate to really done great things in this area. I mean, Stonewall has been running their workplace equality and text for many years, and I think they were very clever to kind of like, connect into that competitive nature between commercial brands, to sort of like who gets the number one spot and where are you on the ratings? And so that's a very great scheme that works really well. And, of course, there are a whole range of recommendations that Stonewall makes about making the workplace much more LGBT inclusive.

I think that there are lots of time invested in bringing staff together to create LGBT network groups, and I think they're often the best way of generating ideas. You actually bring members of your own workforce together, people that know your industry, know your company, know your strengths, know your weaknesses, and you ask them how it can be improved, how the workplace can be made better for LGBT people. I think it's about creating inclusive policies. It's about making sure that pronoun use is kind of like, adopted. We often provide advice and training to organisations about introducing new approaches like pronouns on your badges in the workplace, particularly for front facing staff in retail establishments. But there are many other ways about making the space being make it safer, make it more inclusive, not to put in place policies or procedures that sort of like disadvantaged LGBT people. It's very easy to be on the wrong side of that. And I speak regularly to people who still are in the closet at work, don't feel capable or confident of coming out and telling their work colleagues about the gender identity of their partner or about personal information about themselves. And I think that there's really good research to show that actually that's really stressful and that you don't live your best life if you are hiding your full identity. And that actually employers have everything to gain by creating those inclusive workspaces so that people can be bringing their full self to work and perform better than they would do otherwise.

Andrea Fox
Yeah, completely. I saw pronouns used on a TV programme reality show for the first time the other day, and I thought, oh, I can't believe it's taken this long. So, yeah, there's still a lot to do. And let's think of another big thing that impacts us all financially, then housing. You've touched on renting, but whether people are renting or they're buying. What are some of the issues for the LGBT+ community?

Paul Martin OBE
Well, I think that things are better in terms of sort of like opportunities to protect your partner and investments that you might make together in buying a house. So, by getting a civil partnership or getting married, you can kind of like, protect you and your partner from situations that could disadvantage you. But I think if I take my own situation, I mean, I bought my first house with my husband 16 years ago. We were together for longer than that.

Andrea Fox
Congratulations.

Paul Martin OBE
Thank you very much. We were together before then and we had our own houses, but we bought together only 16 years ago. And we went through an incredibly complicated procedure to get insurance for our mortgage, pure and simply because if we had gone to the mortgage company as a gay male couple, I mean, it wasn't possible to be married 16 years ago, but if we've gone to them, then they would have insisted that if we were making a joint purchase as we did, they would have insisted on us having HIV tests independently and they would also have charged us a higher premium just because they would have perceived us to be more of a risk. And it was never quite determined what that risk might be, but we were deemed to be more of a risk than heterosexual couples. And so therefore, we went through a complicated procedure where we didn't disclose our relationship when we bought the house, and we went through a process whereby the insurance cover that we had was below £100,000. That was a threshold. If you had insurance cover over £100,000, you were forced to have an HIV test. So obviously our house was more than £100,000 so we had a number of different insurance policies that we kind of, like, knitted together to create that financial security because contrary to the risk assessment, we were very serious and responsible adults who wanted to protect the other just in case something happened to one of us.

So, I think that was only 16 years ago that we had to kind of, like, create a way around the rules. And so, I think that what will surprise many of your listeners is that LGBT people are often deemed to be somehow more of a risk or somehow less than the general population, and therefore are forced to pay a premium for access to financial services that the rest of the population just take for granted. And that comes as quite a surprise. And we are reassured that that situation has changed now. But you never can be 100% sure. And a good test is to sort of, like, change your details when you actually apply for a mortgage or a financial product and see whether or not you get the same premium level that you certainly in the past, that was a situation where we were disadvantaged. We were discriminated against in actual fact.

Andrea Fox
Yeah. And that just sounds so ridiculous to me. Like you say, hopefully that is something that's changed, but maybe something you can look at.

Paul Martin OBE
What I think it demonstrates is that these new protections are hard won, but very recent, and we need to always be aware that these things can be taken away from it.

I've been a member of the government's Ministerial LGBT Advisory Panel, which recently was disestablished. And often when you're talking to ministers or senior civil servants, you remind them that the fragility of these protections are such that it's not surprising that members of the community are very suspicious or are very concerned when the government doesn't quickly announce sort of like something positive.

And again, what we've seen with conversion therapy announcement. We've been arguing against conversion therapy for years. We've been given guarantees several times by this government, and the announcement is saying that they still want to do some public consultation. What more is there to be consulted on? A complete ban is the only thing that is acceptable. And yet this government is trying to appease too many people, and particularly people that might not be allies or supporters of LGBT people. So, these protections are decent and hard won, but also quite fragile.

Andrea Fox
Yeah, and sticking with the property issue just for a second as well. Now, although discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is illegal, it has been reported that LGBT+ people encounter higher rates of mortgage application declines. Is that something that your foundation has found?

Paul Martin OBE
I mean, it wouldn't necessarily totally surprise me based upon sort of like the experience that I talked about that I went through with my hubby. But I think that certainly a lot more research needs to be undertaken in this space about the financial needs of LGBT communities and what kind of products need to be put in place and what kind of protections need to be attached to those products.

Andrea Fox
And is it true as well, in your experience, Paul, that some landlords might look at LGBT+ individuals less favourably?

Paul Martin OBE
Yeah, that's definitely the case. There's a counter to that. There are plenty of people that will actively encourage LGBT residents. We are quite house trained, and we want to see things much more attractive than how we found them. But in all seriousness, I think that there is definitely a market that is positively looking for LGBT tenants. But there will always be people that are prejudiced. I mean, we are currently looking for new office accommodation in the centre of Manchester. And believe it or not, we viewed a positive property recently, only to be told that we wouldn't be able to do HIV testing or sexual health testing from the centre. And of course, that's very incredibly important part of our community services because there'll be people coming in and touching the door handles and we don't want them to get anything. And so, we sat the agent down and talked through how HIV is transmitted and what the risk factors are. But even doing that, they went, yeah, but some people still think you can get it by touching door handles. So, we'd rather you didn't do HIV testing from this space.

So, you can see that there's still quite a lot of prejudicial thinking, discriminatory attitudes that are in place.

Andrea Fox
Yeah. And I say it's these results of people worrying about whether when they go for a mortgage, when they go and look for offices, when they go and look at a rental, that they kind of have to not in terms of, obviously, office. But maybe people going out there to rent might hide their status for fear of those kind of reactions.

Paul Martin OBE
Absolutely. I mean, stigma and discrimination for people with HIV is enormous. And we've seen a massive difference in the way that this current coronavirus pandemic has played out compared to the HIV pandemic that has been in place 40 years. This is not the first pandemic that my community has lived through. And we had to develop most of the coping mechanisms and most of the coping strategies ourselves as a community with our allies 40 years ago.

So, people with HIV are still facing very prejudicial attitudes. And for me, it's the best argument you possibly can have that we need to have inclusive education in schools because young people need to be given the right information. But because it's such a patchwork out there and because so many schools don't cover inclusive education, you have young people leaving schools holding the prejudicial attitudes of their parents. So how could you possibly have a serious conversation with a businessperson saying to us, oh, well, people with HIV might touch the door handles, and therefore I have to think of my other tenants. You kind of think this is ridiculous, that you're having this conversation in 2021, and yet here we are.

Andrea Fox
Yeah, completely. Still so much education to be done. And you've mentioned you've been married 16 years. After this podcast is over, I will be asking for your tips. But let's talk about relationships then. Marriage, civil partnerships, they all bring with them certain rights. Maybe it's pensions, maybe it's tax, but is there anything that unmarried LGBT+ couples should be aware of when it comes to protecting their finances, for example?

Paul Martin OBE
Yeah. If you want tips, it's always agreeing that he's right, I think is the best way I found of surviving and navigating that. But the reality is that if you are an unmarried LGBT person, I mean, starters, what are you doing living over the brush without marriage and a ring on your finger? It's a starting point out of, I’m teasing. But in all seriousness, if you own any assets in common, if you have any kids, if you have any pets, then actually the legal status and your rights will potentially be in questioning doubt. And it's much, much better. It's not very romantic to get a civil partnership to protect your assets or your house or your rights as a pet owner. But the reality is that it makes perfect sense to make sure that legally you are covered and that you've had those conversations. I think that so many people just leave all that up to chance. I have a very different approach to money to my husband, and it's a fact, isn't it, of married life that most arguments are to do with money and religion. But I think that having conversations about how you want to manage your assets, how you want to sort of like manage your money, whether you want to have sort of like joint account or have separate accounts with bill accounts and so on and so forth, there's a range of different ways to sort of live a much more harmonious life.

Andrea Fox
Yeah, completely. And as we say on this podcast, a lot. Quite a lot of this is maybe not so sexy conversations, but it's all-important stuff when it comes to finance and making sure everyone is aware and all things have been discussed. And another big key life event for so many people is having children. But family planning for the LGBT+ community isn't quite as straightforward as it is for cisgender, heterosexual people.

So aside from practical and emotional issues that people maybe face, how might this impact them financially? Are there extra costs, maybe, that they need to factor in?

Paul Martin OBE
Well, I think that there's always extra costs associated with children. I mean, that's what my friends with children always say. But I think that it's not as easy necessarily, for LGBT couples to actually conceive children. Often a great deal of thought goes into sort of like bringing children into the lives of LGBT people, everything from sort of like adoption through to fertility treatment. Usually, these children are very planned for and usually the parents have gone through quite a few Hoops to kind of like become a parent. And again, it goes back to sort of like having a civil partnership or a marriage certificate in terms of protecting those children and protecting the rights of your partner.

I think that beyond that, financial planning for LGBT parents is much the same as it is for heterosexual parents in terms of making provision for kids, in terms of university funds and sort of like more practical piano lessons or whatever it is that kids want to do. But I think that there's definitely advice. All of the friends that I know have had children in LGBT relationships have kind of like gone into this with their eyes wide open and done an awful lot of research and have to do a lot of preparation. And I think that there's definitely an area of further support that organisations like mine should be considering. The number of LGBT parents are growing exponentially, and I think the level of need therefore is kind of growing and so therefore organisations like mine should be paying more attention to this space.

Andrea Fox
Yeah, and we did speak to Rich from Two Dads in London about this in depth on another episode. I'm sure we can link to that in the show notes. But what are some of the other issues then, Paul, faced by the ageing LGBT+ demographic? Is there anything that people need to consider when it comes to those pensions for those retirement plans?

Paul Martin OBE
Now, you see, you're getting into my territory now. So as somebody that has passed 50, I'm now deemed to be perfectly matured, older. No, unfortunately, I'm deemed to be older. So, 50 plus is older. I completely reject that wholeheartedly and as strenuously as my 52-year-old body can. But it's definitely something that we need to think about. We need to think about at what point do we retire? About what kind of financial, what kind of lifestyle we want to kind of fund. And I think it's true that for many members of the LGBT community, they haven't got many assets. As I said to you, we did a piece of research with older LGBT people recently because we are involved in developing what they call an extra care scheme. So, in Manchester, we're going to have the UK's first purpose built extra care scheme for 55 and older and people that have a certain level of care needs. There's going to be over 80 units. It's a partnership with Manchester City Council and Anchor Hanover Housing Association, and we're working in partnership with them to create this supported community, which is really exciting. But the research that we've undertaken so far suggests that many LGBT people haven't made financial plans for the future, don't particularly have many savings, and therefore may well really experience quite high levels of pension and poverty.

And I think that, again, it's something that we need to do a lot more about in terms of getting people to think about their future. I guess that for gay men of my generation, it's not unsurprising that many of us, when we came out and sort of like, first started to look around, we're seeing lots of gay men dying in their 30s, 40s and 50s. And so therefore, there may well be a subconscious view that men didn't get older. And so therefore, you live for today and you didn't think about tomorrow. And that's certainly something that I've encountered with friends of mine that are HIV positive and have actually thought they were dead. And so therefore, I've gone out and hammered that credit card or something like spent up and not made any provision for the future. I need to find out that actually the drugs have worked and they're still alive. And a dear friend of mine is now sort of like retrained, got a great career, not as seen as he should be based upon his skills, but he had ten years out of the workplace. So therefore, like many kinds of like mothers and stuff, was disadvantaged by that. And so he's quite behind in the grand scheme of things in terms of where he would have been had he not become HIV positive. And there are many people in that situation.

So, I think that there's definitely more needs, which is why we, as LGBT foundation, are looking at this area. We've developed an older people's programme called Pride in Ageing, which is looking at how we support older LGBT people, often who are not connected to family networks, often who are estranged from sort of like the usual support structures that we rely on when we get older.

Unsurprisingly older gay men are much more likely to need help from social services than their heterosexual counterparts, because the heterosexual counterparts often got children or grandchildren that will look after them, whereas the gay man doesn't. So, there are some very obvious reasons why older LGBT people may well be in greater need as they get older. And I think that my organisation and other charities in the LGBT sector are starting to consider what role we might play in terms of better supporting our elders. And I think just about time for when I need it. I'm certainly kind of wholeheartedly behind that.

Andrea Fox
Yeah, definitely. And this is the Pride in Ageing campaign. Is it true that Sir Ian McKellen is supporting this as well? The wonderful Sir Ian McKellen.

Paul Martin OBE
Yeah, it's quite interesting, actually. Ian is a great supporter of ours and he's one of our patrons and so therefore has done a lot of things for us over the years and he agreed to come up and launch the Pride in Ageing programme. And as a consequence, I mean, he got great media, as you would expect, but as a consequence, everybody thinks it's Sir Ian’s kind of like scheme.

Andrea Fox
What days is he in the office?

Paul Martin OBE
Well, absolutely. I mean, I've got a note out to him saying, where are you? You're missing in action. We want you in the office more regularly. No, but, I mean, he's an absolute sweetheart and he's very supportive of the work as he's celebrating his 80th birthday by doing a national tour when he launched it. So, he was sort of like saying that there's no retirement for him in the future. And of course, he's just recently been on Jonathan Ross talking about playing Hamlet. So, it's interesting that sort of like there's no let up from him, but, yeah, no. Pride in Ageing is a programme of support to reduce social isolation, so we have a whole range of events and activity, plus we are looking at providing counselling other kind of support to older LGBT people.

During lockdown, we launched a new offer called Rainbow Brew Buddies. So, we were getting a lot of calls, particularly from older people, about their social isolation. During the first lockdown, we quickly recruited a bunch of volunteers, and the idea of Rainbow Brew Bud is you ring an older person or somebody you need. It doesn't have to be don't have to be just older, but somebody that is socially isolated. And during the course of having a brew with them on the phone, you just chat and make sure they're okay. And it would prove to be phenomenally popular, really popular. And we were able to pick up on a whole range of issues that we wouldn't have necessarily been done then. So, we were able to put people in touch with food banks. We were able to sort of like put people in touch with other local support in their area.

And I think when you think about where we were this time last year, I mean, we were very isolated if we didn't have anybody else in the house. And the idea that you might not speak to somebody for a couple of days or for a couple of weeks, it was shocking. And so therefore, Rainbow Brew Buddies came along at a really good time. And I think what it meant for us is that we're starting to think about what other advocacy services might we provide to older LGBT people. The kind of thing that I do for my mum, help her with sort of like an official form or sort of like give us some advice about where to kind of like get the best travel insurance or whatever the kind of things that a son does for a parent, that if you haven't got kids to do that, then maybe LGBT foundation volunteers can sort of like step into the breach and be that supportive advocate for you to help you navigate some of the more difficult parts of life. So that's definitely something that we're exploring.

Andrea Fox
Yeah. And what a wonderful campaign as well. I wanted to also ask financial products and services, are there any other areas that can be impacted by this LGBT+ prejudice do you think?

Paul Martin OBE
I think that it's really important for us to kind of get balanced. So, a lot of what I've been talking about are some of the extreme examples or where things still need to improve. In the main, the financial services industry has done a lot of positive work to make itself more inclusive. And it's difficult to think about financial products when you don't just think about kind of people with disposable income or people who are affluent, because there's definitely some insurance products that LGBT people could benefit from, as probably the whole population could. Health insurance and other forms of insurance. I mean, I've worked for a charity for 30 years, and so therefore, my employment has always been potentially a little bit precarious because you never know where the next contract is coming from. Personally, I've got salary protection insurance. I can't remember what it's actually called, but it's not called that, but income protection insurance, just in case I become ill or unable to work and stuff, because I want to make sure that I and my husband are protecting us. So, I don't think that insurance product has been.. I don't think I'd be disadvantaged because I'm a gay man, but I might have been charged a higher premium because insurance underwriters might have assumed that I had a greater likelihood of becoming HIV positive than a heterosexual man of the same age. I don't know. But there are definitely situational issues that we need to make sure are not taken into account when financial products are offered to LGBT people. I mean, I think that certainly at the moment, trans and nonbinary people are very, very disadvantaged in the world. And I think particularly in this country, there are lots of very negative attitudes and discriminatory attitudes that are levelled towards them. And I think that probably they are more likely to be disadvantaged than any other part of the LGBT community in this space.

So, I think that if there are people listening from financial services, my plea would be to make sure that you're not disadvantaging any member of the LGBT community in terms of access to your product, because it's really important that everybody is treated equally and fairly and with respect. And I think too often trans and nonbinary people are not treated with dignity and respect in this country, particularly online and particularly by the media.

Andrea Fox
Yeah, I'm nodding my head off, Paul. I know you can't see it, but I'm nodding along with you.

So where would you recommend people go to look for support for their finances or choosing the right products and services for them?

Paul Martin OBE
Well, this is a really interesting question because the obvious well, there isn't an obvious answer because there are definitely service providers on the market that aim to serve LGBT communities. And so, if listeners sort of like, are in that space, then just Google LGBT financial products and see what kind of comes up. I'm not able to kind of recommend any particular provider, but I think that it's probably an area that is still underserved. I mean, I know over the years we've had conversations with financial providers about potentially partnering with particular products, and certainly we have a couple of corporate partnerships. But I think it's probably, if I'm being really honest with you, it's a very underserved area and that it's one that needs more attention, and maybe it's something that people listening to this might want to kind of like pick up and take.

Andrea Fox
Yeah. And another very important question for you as well. If anyone listening to this has been a victim of discrimination, what should they do and where's the best place for them to go for help?

Paul Martin OBE
If it's safe for them to do so, they should definitely report it and protect themselves. So, one of the things that, sadly, lockdown created was a significant increase in the number of self-referrals to our domestic abuse service. So sadly, our domestic abuse service has been sort of like a growth area for my organisation in recent years. And the more work we do and the more aware we make people of the service; the more people are coming forward. I'm not sure that was exactly the question that you asked me, because I think you were talking about hate crime. But I think any form of abuse, or any form of discrimination is really important for people not to put up with. But often people are not in a safe position to take or do something about it. I mean, domestic violence is not just between partners, it's also between siblings and between sort of like parents and children as well.

So, it's something that if you are in a difficult situation, then try and do everything you can to protect yourself. You are worth it. But there are plenty of LGBT helplines out there, my own organisations included, actually. We share the LGBT Helplines Partnership and that's been a great outcome of Coronavirus lockdowns, where the main LGBT helplines in this country have kind of got together to talk about how we can work more collaboratively together and how we can extend the offer. So, help lines are a really good place and you can ring a helpline as many times as you want to talk to people about your issues. And there will always be a trained operator on the other end that will be able to support you as best they possibly can.

If you are experiencing or experienced a hate crime, then you should definitely report it to your local police force or the National Hate Crime Reporting line. The details of these numbers can be available online. Or maybe you can link it to this podcast, but I would really, really encourage everybody not to put up with it, not to put up with discrimination, not to sort of somehow think that hate crime was something that they deserved or that they were asking for it. It's absolutely not acceptable. And even if the situation isn't as serious as a hate crime, it could definitely warrant as a hate incident. So, it's not unusual for LGBT people to be going about their everyday business and to be called a whole range of different words from quite often young kids on the street. It's not acceptable and you shouldn't have to put up with it. And I would actively encourage people to report it as often as possible, just because if you don't, it goes unreported and it becomes another hidden statistic. And so therefore we'll never get on top of it, and we'll never see the true nature of it until we sort of see the full number of hate incidents or hate crimes. And unfortunately, there are far too many, far too many than we would like. And I think that particularly during lockdown, people from LGBT communities found themselves in quite unsafe environments, environments that they haven't necessarily banked on spending quite so much time in. And so, we were providing a lot of support to people in terms of making themselves as safe as they could be and getting out of difficult situation, if that was possible. So, yeah, report it, report it, report it. Do not suffer in silence would be the key message I would be giving to any listeners that were in a difficult situation.

Get advice and get support. Don't suffer in silence on your own.

Andrea Fox
Yeah, I completely agree. And as Paul mentioned, as always, we'll have lots of resources in the show notes wherever you're listening to this podcast today. But we're nearly at the end of the episode now, and I'm definitely going to take away the wonderful phrase over the brush that you used earlier on. I have not heard that, banking that one.

But if you had top takeaway from this podcast, if people do things after listening to the podcast, what are the top things you want people to remember from all the tips you've given us today?

Paul Martin OBE
Well, I suppose that the last one is really important, isn't it, about not suffering in silence and get help and advice if you need it. And I think that's true for just about any situation. So, I think that it's really important for you to do whatever you can to protect yourself and safeguard yourself. A great starting point would be to ring a helpline like my organisations. It's available seven days a week on 0845 3 30 30 30 other LGBT helplines available across the country. But it's really important that you make that first step to help yourself and to protect yourself. And the operators on my helpline and other LGBT helplines are available there for you to get the support that you might need.

We know, evidence is very clear that this coronavirus has disproportionately impacted on LGBT people in lots of different ways. It certainly increased isolation that was there anyway. It certainly highlighted the fact that many LGBT people are not in robust support structures and so therefore are quite isolated. So, getting advice, getting support, helping yourself to get out of situations if you can, would be really important advice.

I also think that obviously this podcast is about financial planning and financial services, and so I think that having a little bit of a think about your own situation, what kind of situation are you in? Do you own your own house? And if you do on your own house, have you made provisions about what happens if something happens to you, like if you can't work? Or I guess that for a lot of people who may have been furloughed or may have lost their jobs as a result of coronavirus and actually that's going to be they've already been doing that and thinking about how am I going to keep a roof over my head? If you want to buy a property? I know quite a few of my colleagues because they've not been able to go out for a year, have been able to make some savings, and so they're suddenly in a situation of something to think about buying their first property. So, I think doing a little bit of a spring clean with your finances. Thinking about your own situation would be something that would be really sensible to kind of like do. But I think that most importantly, I think that if you are an LGBT person listening, make sure you understand that you are loved and that you are a brilliant person.

And if you're an LGBT ally, make sure you support LGBT people and make sure you tell them that they are brilliant too. Because I think that's really important in a sometimes-hostile environment for people to be told that they're brilliant and that they're loved and it will get better if you're in a difficult situation.

Andrea Fox
Lovely note. And if you are in that position like you just mentioned of your friends thinking about buying, I highly recommend the back catalogue of this Penny Drops Podcast, but we have talked about some very serious things on this podcast. But on a light note, we always like to end by asking our guest Paul, if you could go back and give your 18-year-old self a bit of advice, what would it be?

Paul Martin OBE
Don't accept that cigarette at the back of the bike sheds at lunchtime because you'll only regret it. Secondly, instead of going behind the bikes smoking at lunchtime, go into the gym and go into that weightlifting class that you feel too intimidated to go into because if you started working out at 18, you'd be in a better state than you are now. And the final thing that I would tell my 18-year-old self is that £50 you got from grandma. Go and invest it in a couple of guys in America that has started this project called Apple Macintosh. Just buy £50 quid's worth of shares and you'll be set for life.

Andrea Fox
That is a great one. Paul Martin OBE, thank you so much for joining me on The Penny Drops.

Paul Martin OBE
You're very, very welcome. It's been a real pleasure. Thank you.

Outro voiceover
Thanks for listening to this episode of The Penny Drops. We hope you learnt something new and useful to help you with your finances. We'd love to hear what you think of the series, so please do leave us a review or if you have any comments or money questions, you'd like us to cover, you can get in touch at ThePennyDrops@royalandon.com.

This podcast series is brought to you by Royal London, the UK's largest mutual life, pensions, and investment company. Royal London recommends you seek professional, independent financial advice before making financial decisions or views and opinions expressed are those of the guests and not of Royal London.

How can you find more information?

Royal London recommends you seek professional independent financial advice before making financial decisions. Learn more about the value of financial advice.

You can also find lots of helpful information on the following sites:

General information and guidance


This episode was recorded during the coronavirus outbreak. For the latest information on financial support and benefits, visit gov.uk/coronavirus.

Please note that all topics discussed in this episode can vary depending on your personal circumstances. Any figures quoted were accurate at the time of recording.