One hundred Welsh claimants in crisis will receive twelve weeks’ support thanks to a new service commissioned by the Department of Work and Pensions.
A three-month version of Clean Slate’s money health-check and financial guidance service was launched in Wales around Christmas 2020. One hundred benefit claimants in some form of financial crisis will benefit from the phone-based service.
A team of support workers will work through an initial triage to explore participants’ money worries, the root causes and the extent of the problem. Using a toolkit designed by Quids in!, Clean Slate’s money skills initiative, a money health-check generates a series of next steps for claimants to follow, working towards improved financial wellbeing.
Clean Slate Founder, Jeff Mitchell said: “Quids in! has been operating in Wales for years, publishing bilingual products and working with the Illegal Money Lending Team, for example. We’ve just been waiting for the opportunity to create a Welsh team, however, because it’s important workers know what’s needed and what’s available in Wales. The pandemic was just the tipping point, with so many now forced onto Universal Credit or struggling without any savings to fall back on.”
Participants benefit from three monthly food vouchers and weekly calls with support workers to progress applications for emergency funding, conduct budget reviews and explore ways to reduce costs and increase income. Where possible, savings plans are discussed and if specialist debt, housing or mental health advice is required, claimants are signposted to appropriate agencies.
In the first seven weeks, more than 60 claimants have been referred to the service.
“We’ve had some very harrowing calls but people really appreciate hearing from us. We’re all so isolated right now. Difficult times have become desperate times for many – it’s not even as if it’s easy for friends to reach out to friends with help and advice. Some simple steps, and just knowing someone is there, are making a big difference to people.”
The money health-check revolves around the online Future-Proof Finance Quiz, originally designed as a self-help tool for Quids in! magazine readers. In 2020, in partnership with the Good Things Foundation and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Mastercard, the Quiz was upgraded to include links to digital tools and resources. The aim was to help improve digital confidence and literacy so people on low incomes could access digital help and manage their money better.
A Budgeting service has also been commissioned to support 32 claimants using Rhyl Job Centre. This five-to-six week programme also begins with a money health-check but aims to support people prior to reaching crisis point. It signposts them to support and focuses on ways participants can help themselves.
More on the Money Health-Check service from Clean Slate here.