Earlier this year the Financial Health Exchange at Toynbee Hall carried out an evaluation of an advice and education partnership in Brighton and Hove called Moneyworks, to assess whether it had achieved its objectives of providing support to the financially excluded and hard to reach groups.
Today marks the re-launch of the Moneyworks partnership and for this occasion we are publishing our full evaluation – to show how well joined-up services are being provided to residents in the area.
What is Moneyworks
Moneyworks, which was launched in September 2014, is a council and DWP funded project providing advice and education to residents of Brighton and Hove. It was launched with the purpose of providing support to the financially excluded and hard to reach groups by joining up the existing services throughout the area.
It delivered services in a number of ways. Their advice partners carry out in depth assessments of income/expenditure and to see how much debt a client has, whether they need benefit advice, how financially capable they are and how suitable/relevant it is to encourage them to use other educational partners.
For those education partners, they provide a light touch assessment of learning needs, tailored support with a range of financial inclusion issues, and referrals to advice partners where necessary.
Together, those services work to determine whether clients have a short-term need or a long term need, and to ensure clients can talk to someone with the expertise to assess their financial situation.
It has four main objectives:
– To create a joined up and holistic approach among partners, or a ‘one-stop shop’.
– To improve the financial wellbeing and resilience of residents
– To embed individual empowerment
– To build a community banking partnership.
On the business and funding-related side, it had a further four goals:
– To achieve an outcomes based framework to help people with their finances
– To meet targets on referrals within and among partners
– To raise the profile of agencies for future bids
– A closer working relationship between the advice services and the banking sector.
What we found
We carried out a “deep dive” review involving depth interviews with a wide range of service representatives, commissioners, and clients. We also sat in on several educational sessions provided by Moneyworks, including digital education services.
From there, we undertook a thematic analysis to assess how representatives understood the success of their work in relation to original objectives, and to what degree they found a joined-up approach to work for them.
We addressed the following themes in our analysis: learning from client information; working relationships with services beyond financial distress; partnership working; learning and development; and, areas of improvement.
Client outcomes have been very positive. Moneyworks monitoring data shows (on average):
- Regular weekly income of clients increased overall = £2,961 (£153,980 annually)
- One off lump sums, e.g. grants and backdated benefits = £6,599
- Reduced weekly outgoings = £3,023 (£157,196 annually)
- Debts written off or managed on payment plan = £144,777
- This means that, based solely on increases to regular weekly income, on average each client is better off by £1,587 per year.
We make a series of recommendations looking at partnerships with local community-based financial services, increasing the presence of food charities in the partnership, further preparations for the hardest to reach for advice services, more work on a shared database system, and establishing working relationships with others in housing and the criminal justice system.
While this evaluation addresses the Moneyworks partnership specifically, it will have universal appeal to other service providers around the country also dealing with financial and debt advice, as well as education services. Moreover, many of the themes addressed throughout the evaluation will really resonate with other service providers focusing on the financially excluded and hardest to reach.
Read the executive summary and full evaluation here.