Money Skills Project
The Money Skills Project provides people from BME, refugee and migrant communities with one-to-one money, debt advice/representation, and workshops to reduce fuel poverty and improve financial stability.
In 2021, the Project helped improve the long-term stability and quality of life of 401 families by giving financially-excluded service users the information, resources, and financial literacy skills to escape the poverty cycle and achieve long-term stability which represents a 15% decrease from last year The team of 2 advisors, 3 sessional workers and one volunteer provided a multilingual service speaking at least 10 languages and worked with service users from 51 different countries of Origin.
This comprises 1140 direct beneficiaries, equating to 671 adults and 469 children - an 11% decrease on the previous year. This reflects the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions on clients accessing our services and our change of service delivery plans based on government guidelines.
£ 571,013 was raised by the Money Skills Team from child tax credits, working tax credits, benefit entitlements and savings, and put back into the Scottish economy.
We have seen a rise in demand for services related to accessing Grants, Funds and Benefits entitlement claims as a result of job losses. The service was therefore provided remotely by telephone instead of additional outreach services and community advice desks run by our multilingual Community advice desk workers . It was particularly challenging to assist many clients with benefits issues/energy bills due to multiple barriers i.e. low literacy, language barriers, and poor digital skills. This meant our advisors had to provide enhanced level of digital support in addition to assessing their financial support needs and eligibility for benefit claims/ grants. Due to current circumstances and restrictions on face to face contacts, we have had to hold back our original plan of carrying out property assessments for energy efficiency through Home Visits. Fom August 2020 ,3 Multilingual Community Advice Desk workers were recruited to work remotely and trained to support clients at risk of digital and financial exclusion in many ways. Challenges continue for clients migrating from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment,Assisting clients facing Utility Debts due to rising Fuel Bills, Issues related to Food and Fuel Poverty, The service has seen an increase in the complexities and number of enquiries . Financial skills workshops were run on Zoom Online Platform for the first time. We successfully reached out to 48 BME households attending these workshops on a range of topics in different languages.
The project’s service continues to strive to resolve clients’ existing financial issues as well as improve their financial knowledge, confidence, and skills to prevent future issues from developing.
402 service users reported that they had been enabled to develop a range of money management skills, such as how to make utility savings, how to maximise their income,budgeting for clients with single debts, or assistance in dealing with emergency debt situations,and access low cost loans. Service users had increased awareness about mainstream services, preventing loan sharks and future financial crisis from developing . The knock on effect is a reduction in poverty. This represents an 8%% increase on the numbers assisted last year - (373 last year ).
48 BME households improved financial literacy skills and confidence in money management by attending 8 Online Financial Capability Workshops run by the charity (10 workshops 8 financial capability groups assisting 200 households last year).
203 service users experienced a financial gain as a result of debt and welfare rights advice.(183 last year)
The project’s work was supported by one volunteer from ethnic minority background who was home based and enhanced our overall support capacity.