The Northern Ireland Executive began consultation on proposals for a new strategy to guide the delivery of generalist advice services over the period 2015-2020. The consultation would close on 14 December 2014.
Source: 'Advising, Supporting, Empowering': A strategy for the delivery of generalist advice services in Northern Ireland 2015-2020 – A consultation paper on a strategy for the delivery of generalist advice services in Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Executive
An article examined the factors underlying financial well-being (FWB), drawing on a study with young workers and families with young children in the United Kingdom. It said that control over one's finances was found to be more important than the amount of available money, and concluded that FWB would be increased if individuals could experience a greater sense of overall control of their money, with potential policy implications from the benefits of lower unsecured debt and increased savings.
Source: Ivo Vlaev and Antony Elliott, 'Financial well-being components', Social Indicators Research, Volume 118 Number 3
A report provided an overview of the changes to civil litigation and the provision of civil and family legal aid in England and Wales following The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO), and the effects of the changes during the first year of operation, drawing on a survey of the Bar and semi-structured interviews with barristers, clerks, and representatives from organizations providing frontline services. The report said that some areas of law were now almost entirely excluded from legal aid, including child custody, housing, welfare law, and immigration (except asylum cases), and that there was now a need to determine the impact of LASPO on access to justice, in order to aid the development and implementation of evidence-based policy solutions.
Source: Sarah-Jane Bennett, The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO): One year on – final report, Bar Council
A report examined the needs of people in poverty for information, advice, and support, and how services could help to prevent, mitigate, and reduce poverty. It said that the need for advice services arose from a broad range of life events, as well as the need to engage with the state and in key markets and as a consequence of the needs of the individual users. It called for a range of measures, including: for advice provision to be embedded in services which groups of people in poverty were most likely to use in relation to major life events (such as health and welfare-to-work services); and for the government's future equality impact assessments to consider the likely impact of policy on the demand for advice. The report also discussed the impact of advice, support, and information services, called for further work to be conducted on impact measurement, and recommended for a national stakeholder group to convene to establish a business case for social investment in the sector.
Source: Damon Gibbons and Sarah Foster, Advice, Support and Poverty: Evidence review, Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion
A think-tank report discussed the extent of problem debt in the United Kingdom and set out proposals for a system of affordable financial services providers (including the expansion of credit unions and community finance organizations) to encourage debt reduction, improve understanding of financial products, and encourage saving.
Source: Restoring the Balance: Tackling problem debt, Centre for Social Justice
A report evaluated the Access to Financial Services through Credit Unions Project that sought to develop the credit union movement in Wales. The report said that the project was relatively successful in meeting its aims and objectives, albeit not consistently so across the credit union movement. Although some progress had been made towards developing a 'strong, sound and effective credit union movement', the report noted rifts within the movement. It said that the project had performed exceptionally well against its target for supporting financially excluded individuals, and good progress had been made towards the targets for 2020 set out in the Credit Union Action Plan. The report noted a growth in credit union membership and some growth in the asset base and loan portfolio, but said that credit unions still had very high operating costs, and continued to hold higher levels of cash reserves than desired. The report concluded that the project could have achieved better value for money, but that the severe limitations of the available data restricted the assessment of economic impact.
Source: Nia Bryer, An Evaluation of the Access to Financial Services through Credit Unions Project: Final report, Research Report 51/2014, Welsh Government
A report provided findings from a study of the long-term impact of advice provided by Citizens' Advice Bureaux in the Bath and North East Somerset area of England. It said that 80 per cent of clients sampled showed that CAB advice had led to positive outcomes, which included: the alleviation of poverty through income gain, debts managed and rescheduled; reduction in the impact on mental health and well-being; and the avoidance of homelessness. Using a Social Return on Investment approach, it said that advice had generated returns on a ratio of 1:50 over a 5 year period (that is, for every pound spent on providing services, a value of £50 was generated). The report noted implications for policy, service delivery, and the development of methodologies for measuring impact in the sector.
Source: Michelle Farr, Peter Cressey, Susan Milner, Nick Abercrombie, and Beth Jaynes, Proving the Value of Advice: A study of the impact of Citizens' Advice Bureau services, South West Forum
A think-tank report considered alternatives to high-cost, short-term loans (or payday lending) for people without access to mainstream credit. The report recommended the establishment of a new national institution, funded initially by a one-off levy on the consumer credit market, to mobilize and capitalize a diverse range of new local, not-for-profit lenders and to incentivize saving among low-income families. The report also made recommendations for good practice for payday lenders.
Source: Mathew Lawrence and Graeme Cooke, Jumping the Shark: Building institutions to spread access to affordable credit, Institute for Public Policy Research
An article examined the potential role of community development finance institutions (CDFIs) in helping to reduce poverty, by providing finance to those who were financially excluded and removing a barrier to their acquisition of assets. A survey of around 360 households in 4 cities, carried out both before and after the 2008-09 recession, found that a major factor determining whether low-income households receiving CDFI loans were able to exit from poverty was their ability to save, which in turn was found to be determined by a variety of attitudinal and institutional factors, (including the 'rationality' of their coping strategies, the nature and extent of social networks, and the extent of their access to money advice). Some of these causal factors could be influenced by policy changes.
Source: Pamela Lenton and Paul Mosley, 'Financial exit routes from the "poverty trap": a study of four UK cities', Urban Studies, Volume 51 Number 4
An article examined public attitudes to financial capability, drawing on evidence from a focus-group study in London. It said that people supported financial capability and did not see this as 'financialisation', in the sense of it turning them into financial subjects, although some views corresponded with a weaker version of financialisation, particularly on home ownership.
Source: Rajiv Prabhakar, 'What are public attitudes towards financial capability? Evidence from focus groups in London', Policy Studies, Volume 35 Number 2
A report examined the experience of, and attitudes towards, credit unions among churchgoers in the Church of England. It said that churchgoers saw a need to develop a more ethical financial system, were generally positive about credit unions, and thought that the church should help the sector to grow, although there were some concerns around financial security and few people saw a need to join one. The report encouraged the development and use of credit unions, and recommended that the church should work with partners to develop a peer network to support this work.
Source: Bethany Eckley, Money Speaks Louder Than Words: Credit unions and the role of the church in tackling financial exclusion, Church Urban Fund