Talk Money Week – let’s talk about debt and money
Last week was Talk Money week, a week dedicated to starting a national conversation on everything to do with money. From 12th – 18th November, the Financial Capability Strategy Partnership, a network of employers, charities, government and businesses, hosted a series of events and asked organisations to:
- encourage people to talk about money
- showcase their services, and
- lead the charge to make their work more effective by turning evidence of what works into action at scale.
We know just how important those aims are in building a consensus and developing solutions to issues around debt, savings and access to financial services. Our research conducted last year in a report on the savings habits of low income households showed that 24 per cent of all UK households have absolutely no savings whatsoever and 13 million people would not have enough savings to support them for a month if their income fell by 25 per cent.
We also found that our own debt advice clients had average debts of £7,593 and paid £324 per year extra for essential goods and services in what is known as the Poverty Premium. This is means it would take 7 years extra to repay their debt because of the increased costs on basics for low income households.
As an organisation committed to creating fairer systems and tackling financial exclusion in London and across UK, we want to be part of this conversation and showcase the work we’re doing to champion financial inclusion and capability and lead in the debt advice sector, providing debt and money management advice and support.
Putting money support at the heart of debt advice
We’ve been integrating money management support with debt advice, specifically targeted to clients whose debt puts them at risk of homelessness. We work with two high need hostels and help their clients deal with existing debts and deal with their immediate crisis and then, with a trusting relationship built, help them build the confidence and financial resilience and capability to avoid problem debt situations in the future.
Working with clients on a longer-term, relational basis rather than a transactional appointment has seen our advisers support over 300 clients to achieve financial outcomes totaling £130,624. This included debts written off, benefits and tax credits payments achieved, and charitable grants awarded.
Expanding our Community Money Mentors programme
Our longstanding financial management training programme, Community Money Mentors has expanded even further and we’ve began to employ graduates from the course to go and teach the programme and run community action projects. Here, Community Money Mentors were able to share their knowledge to help improve the financial health of their community.
This has seen the number of the participants who are now able to save has rising from 40% before the course to 86% after and knowledge of financial products and services, such as credit options and energy tariffs, increased by at least 40%* From January, Community Money Mentors will be teaching 20 courses across London. Money Mentors are sharing knowledge of how to;
- compare own brand and high cost products and how much a switch could save them every year
- improve budgeting skills by holding a “needs and wants” session challenging them about whether a product is a necessity or a desire
- save and control their spending; Local community participants provided examples of how they save money themselves, e.g. buying in bulk and switching energy providers. Members of the community were able to learn from each other and gain new tips
- increase knowledge of how to lower utility bills, budget effectively and general savings tips through an information Session
- raise awareness of the extra expenses that having a low income can incur through a Poverty Premium Survey
This has seen the number of the participants who are now able to save has rising from 40% before the course to 86% after and knowledge of financial products and services, such as credit options and energy tariffs, increased by at least 40%* From January, Community Money Mentors will be teaching 20 courses across London.
Creating fairer financial systems across the UK
After attending Talk Money London Conference on Wednesday, Director of Policy and Innovation Sian Williams, outlined what we’re doing on a national level to create fairer financial systems and how we’re using lived experience from the people we work to inform and influence national policy.
Along with others, we presented evidence to the Treasury and are working with them pilot of no interest small loans to help those unable to access financial services. We’re working alongside Fair By Design to embed people’s lived experience in tackling the Poverty Premium, by getting rid of those extra costs for poor and low income households. They have launched a roadmap to tackle these extra costs. We’re also researching savings with JP Morgan and Gingerbread to support saving amongst single parents.
On Day 4 of Talk Money week, we shared our community peer co-design work with Tai Tarian Housing Association residents and the co-design of new financial products in collaboration with the End High Cost Credit Alliance at the Talk Money Conference in Wales
Join the conversation
These is just some examples of the work we’ll be doing to improve people’s financial lives, but issues such as Universal Credit, which are causing an increase in people coming to us with priority debts, such as rent or council tax arrears, rather than non-priority debt, such as credit card debts, continues to impact people’s lives. Talk Money week has been a fantastic opportunity to discuss the challenges and how we can work together to provide solutions to the issues that people across the UK experience every day.
“We do nothing alone; we partner, we collaborate, we support, we champion. We make mistakes, & we try to learn & share that learning. So thank you to everyone participating in Talk Money week. Let’s keep talking, sharing & collaborating”
Sian Williams, Director of Policy and Innovation
Join the conversation by following the hashtag #TalkMoney on Twitter and share your experiences. If you would like to speak to someone about any debt or money problems, find out what our services can help.