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The MHA Financial Inclusion strategy was developed in 2008 and launched in 2009. This outcome report highlights some of the progress the Strategy has made over the last 3 years and states the future direction Financial Inclusion will take. Financial Inclusion work will now form part of the wider Engagement & Empowerment and Regeneration Strategies at MHA. The UK government definition of Financial Inclusion states that “Financial Inclusion is all about ensuring everyone has the opportunity to access financial services and products needed to participate fully in modern-day society.”1 The definition goes on to further state that financial inclusion includes the concept of financial capability. Financial capability is described as the ability of individuals to understand their own financial circumstances, along with the motivation to take action. The definition of financial inclusion as stated by HM Treasury Unit March 20072 refers to ensuring that everyone can:

• • •

Manage their money on a day-to-day basis Plan for the future and cope with financial pressures Deal effectively with financial distress

Those that are financially capable can:

• • • •

Plan ahead Find and use information Know when to seek advice Can understand and act on this advice3

HM Treasury: Financial inclusion: an action plan for 2008-11. Financial Inclusion: the way forward HM Treasury March 2007. 3 1



Pictured (L-R): Judith Langmead (Chair of the MHA Board), Jocelyn Davies (Deputy Minister of Housing and John Keegan (Chief Executive of MHA).

Following transfer MHA identified a need to consider the feasibility of undertaking Financial Inclusion work. In 2008 MHA recruited a Project Co-ordinator whose role was threefold:

1. 2. 3.

To raise awareness of FI with service users and identify their needs To identify the business case in promoting FI To identify what training is required by MHA staff to make MHA’s services financially inclusive

At the outset MHA conducted a number of Financial Inclusion road shows across the county, aimed at researching tenants’ needs. Information was also featured in newsletters to raise awareness of FI work. Internally, research was conducted with staff members to raise awareness of the agenda, to understand the needs and aspirations and what actions (if any) should be taken at different stages of the housing process to make our services financially inclusive. Research was also conducted to identify whether financial inclusion would bring business benefit - this included speaking with other RSLs who were already implementing FI-related initiatives. This work involved defining what financial inclusion meant to MHA and what we were going to do about it. With the research conducted and taking on board the national definition of FI, the direction of the MHA FI strategy was formed. The FI strategy focused on promoting Financial Inclusion and Financial Capability; Employability; Lifelong Learning; Empowerment Opportunities. This approach encapsulates MHA’s long term vision of engaging our tenants to enable them to become more financially included and capable, while also equipping tenants with the skills needed to gain and retain employment, thus having implications for sustained income maximisation.


Pictured: Farida Aslam, Financial Inclusion Co-ordinator (centre), Kath Deakin, Community Services Manager (right) & members of MHA’s Senior Management Team.

MHA developed seven objectives as part of their FI strategy:

Objective 1: To provide access to free face-to-face advice.

Objective 2: To promote access to affordable credit.

Objective 3: To promote income maximisation.

Objective 4: To promote access to financial products and services.

Objective 5: To provide financial capability and financial literacy support.

• •

Objective 6: To build employability and lifelong learning support into Objective 6: each of the First 5 financial inclusion objectives.

Objective 7: To work in partnership to achieve FI objectives.

This report will look at each objective in turn and consider what outcomes were achieved in respect of each objective.


Objective 1: To provide access to free face-to-face advice. The aim of this objective was to promote and develop access to face-toface advice on money, benefits and debt matters. As part of this objective MHA piloted two projects in 2008 – 2009 • •

The Income Maximisation Project The Debt Advice Project

and delivered a series of presentations on green energy efficiency before pulling together the lessons learned from each initiative and developing the current ‘Money Wise’ initiative. A number of outcomes were achieved by the pilot projects and the presentations. These outcomes are listed on the following pages.


Objective 1: To provide access to free face-to-face advice. Income Maximisation Project, a pilot project with Shelter Cymru (duration 6 months) The Income Maximisation Project recruited a Project Officer to provide face-to-face advice on welfare benefits working part-time over a 6 month period. • • •

The total financial benefits achieved in the 6 month period were £22,545.50 There were 86 referrals made to the officer, with 34 non-responders therefore an approximate 60% take up of services £19,359.94 of the total £22,545.50 financial benefit related to Housing Benefit payment

• • •

Income maximisation was not really being delivered, more focus on wider benefits was needed Debt advice was also required in a number of cases – this was not being addressed The service was needed but there was a lack of awareness of the project amongst tenants

The non-responder issue needed to be addressed if value for money was to be achieved.

Lessons learnt from the pilot included:


Objective 1: To provide access to free face-to-face advice. Debt Advice Project, a pilot project with DRAMA (duration 3 months) A debt advice project was then piloted to offer face-to-face support to those with rent arrears, using a budget sheet to enter into realistic, sustainable repayment plans. • • • • • •

Total number of referrals 39 13 non-responders 21 referrals received debt advice (5 others were provided with alternative advice) 20 agreements reached in respect of rent repayment plans The total amount of priority debt collectively owed by the 21 tenants - £24,788.00 Total amount of non-priority debt owed by the tenants £184,964.00

Lessons learnt from the pilot included: • • •

Clear need for debt advice MHA was able to address rent arrears debt but there were issues around providing advice for the wider debt Approximately 33% non engagement


Objective 1: To provide access to free face-to-face advice. Energy Best Deals (duration 3 months) MHA secured funding to deliver a number of face-to-face advice sessions on energy efficiency and switching energy supplier as a means to save money. The project was offered to frontline service providers and tenants. • • • •

Total Total Total Total

number number number number

of frontline advisors trained: 43 of frontline advisors who will change their behaviour and pass on information: 42 of tenants engaged: 30 likely to change their behaviour or do something about their bills: 16

Having learnt the lessons from both projects and the Energy Best Deal advice sessions MHA developed the Money Wise Project to offer free face-to-face advice on debt, welfare benefits and energy efficiency.


Matt Talyor & Hayley D’Allessio, MHA Income & Energy Advisors - with Tony Poynton, MHA resident & active member of MHA’s Financial Inclusion Working Group.

Objective 1: To provide access to free face-to-face advice. The Money Wise Project MHA secured a year’s funding from the DWP to support the development of the Money Wise Project which was to run for 2 years initially. The project provides face-to-face advice to tenants on energy efficiency, debt and welfare benefits. The outcomes achieved to date from the Money Wise Project include: • • • • • • •

£80,000 gained in welfare benefits £25,000 gained via the Welsh Water Assist Project £3,360 gained through Warm Home Discount £4,600 gained through Cash for Clothes There has been a 75% take up of the service on offer Over 200 referrals Satisfaction with the project remains high, with numerous compliments being received

Lessons we are learning: • • • •

Regular training is required to offer a good service – especially with changes to welfare and other financial services expected More preventative work is required eg. advisors now visit within the first 14 days of a tenancy before any rent arrears can be accrued Links to employment and financial capability are clearly evident More work needs to be done to capture outcomes, changes in behaviour and personal journeys.


Matt Taylor & Hayley D’Allessio, MHA Income & Energy Advisors - Money Wise Service working in the community at the ‘Cash 4 Clothes’ event.

Objective 2: Access to affordable credit. The aim of this objective was to promote and develop access to affordable credit and to facilitate a culture of saving. To promote access to affordable credit MHA has worked with the Gateway Credit Union and Moneyline Cymru, a CDFI (Community Development Finance Institution), to raise awareness of their services by regularly featuring them in MHA’s Tenant Matters and Money Matters newsletters. In addition, MHA also offers an incentive scheme to tenants to encourage saving. £5 is awarded for any child account opened and £10 for any adult account providing 3 regular saving transactions have been made by the tenant. Outcomes to date include: • • • • • • • •

40 loans issued by the Credit Union to tenants totalling £22,023 104 tenant Credit Union accounts opened with savings totalling £8554 6 tenants volunteering with Credit Union 37 MHA staff members opened Credit Union accounts MHA staff able to save via payroll deductions CU & CDFI information provided as part of pre-tenancy work and made available on MHA & HomeSearch websites 14 CDFI loans issued 10 CDFI savings accounts opened


Objective 3: Income maximisation. The aim of this objective was to maximise the income of tenants by ensuring they accessed all the support they were entitled to. Objectives one and three overlap. However the overall total income maximised over the course of the last 3 years is £135,505. The breakdown of this figure is: •

Income Maximization Project £22,545.50

Money Wise welfare benefits £80,000

Welsh Water Assist Project £25,000

Warm Home Discount £3,360

Cash for Clothes £4,600

Total - £135,505.50


Objective 4: Access to financial products & services. The aim of this objective was to ensure access to basic banking and financial services e.g. insurance for tenants. MHA encouraged tenants to purchase home insurance by offering an incentive scheme giving £20 insurance discounts. To date: • •

37 households have taken out insurance with MHA’s chosen supplier 10 insurance policies taken out with external providers

To promote access to bank accounts MHA encouraged tenants to pay their rent via Direct Debit and offered assistance with opening bank accounts. As a result, we have witnessed a 5% increase in using DD. To raise general awareness of FI and financial products and services MHA have produced 3 issues of the Money Matters newsletter. MHA have: • • •

Received a number of compliments about Money Matters Had record feedback for competitions Received a large amount of relevant data and feedback from the newsletter’s annual survey on the experiences of tenants engaging with the Financial Inclusion initiatives. This has helped improve services year-on-year.


Financial Capability Course attendees - Monmouth ‘Bargain Hunters Online’ with Farida Aslam, Financial Inclusion Co-Ordinator.

Objective 5: Provide financial capability & literacy support. The aim of this objective was to ensure tenants have the right life-skills to manage their money and make informed choices for their financial situations. To deliver this objective MHA have worked closely with Monmouthshire Adult & Community Education (MACE) and a range of other external agencies, to provide good financial capability advice, training and support. We have achieved the following outcomes: •

Delivered two basic Financial Capability courses and developed the ‘Bargain Hunters Online Course’ an innovative FC course which helps participants to use the internet to find deals, do price comparisons and shop on line safely (all from a basics skill point of view)

62 tenants engaged in learning

Delivered over 100 sessions of learning with MACE

Developed a new way of illustrating the relationship between basic skills, tenant involvement and empowerment using the Basic Skills Continuum. (See Fig.1 - Opposite)

Basic Skills can change lives at an individual level and lead to organisational benefits & community benefits.

Increased Job Prospects Increased Confidence

Jobs Ploughing Money Back Into Local Community

Increased Skill

Attendance at Local Meetings

Informed & Involved in Local Initiatives

Organisational Gain

As confidence increases individual gain should flow into Organisational Gain

Individual Gain

As confidence increases, Individual gain should flow into Community Gain

Community Gain

Increase Confidence to represent oneself and others... Increase Communication & Confidence to formally become involved with... Increase Communication and Basic Skills to compose a letter...

Increased Communication starts with...

Increased Awareness

Concern About Local Area

Good Basic Skills

Improved Basic Skills


Tenant Participation

Increased Communication Via Letter

Increased Communication Via Phone

Poor Basic Skills

Improved Basic Skills

Good Basic Skills


Fig.1 - MHA Basic Skills Continuum The Basic Skills Continuum demonstrates how as a housing association we can work with residents to improve basic skills and increase empowerment. Based on the continuum, as basic skills increase and confidence grows organisational benefits and community benefits can result. MHA will track the progress of our tenants using the continuum to demonstrate this methodology is the right one to pursue in engaging and empowering tenants.

Financial Capability Course attendees, Chepstow - with Basic Skills Tutor, Angelina Patrick of Monmouthshire Adult Community Education (MACE).

MHA’s Passport to Beauty participants - part of MHA’s Work & Skills Wise initiative, delivered jointly with Charter Housing.

Objective 6: To build employability and lifelong learning support into each of the First 5 financial inclusion objectives. The aim of this objective was (wherever possible) to link the financial inclusion agenda to employment and empowerment opportunities for tenants. The priority in years one and two of the FI action plans was to deliver the FI and FC work with year three allowing MHA to start strengthening the connection between FC and employability. This has resulted in the development of the Work and Skills Wise initiative. Work and Skills Wise is the brand name for the employability, up-skilling and development programme which MHA is delivering. The Work and Skills Wise initiative has three themes: • • •

Promoting Education Raising Aspiration Building Experience

Under the Education theme MHA offers: • • •

Free training courses Free laptops to borrow via the MHA ‘Computers in the Community Scheme’ The MHA Bursary Scheme, to allow MHA tenants to access additional funds towards further educational development


Job Seeking Skills Programme attendees at Overmonnow as part of MHA’s Work & Skills Wise initiative.

Objective 6: To build employability and lifelong learning support into each of the First 5 financial inclusion objectives. Under the Experience theme MHA offers: • •

Voluntary work experience within MHA The support to develop a volunteer placement with other partner organisations

Under the Aspiration theme MHA offers: • •

MHA Job Seeking Skills Programme Self Employment Support

The outcomes achieved to date under this objective include: • • • •

14 laptop computers on loan through the Computers in the Community Scheme 50% of participants secured employment after attending the Job Seeking Skills Programme 4 tenants became self-employed as mobile beauty therapists through the Working for Me Project 6 bursaries awarded, resulting in: o o o o o

1 1 1 1 1

nail technician holistic therapy trainee ECDL qualification holder qualified child minder qualified railway worker


Farida Aslam, Financial Inclusion Co-ordinator (centre) and the members of the Financial Inclusion Working Partnership.

Objective 7: Working in partnership to achieve FI objectives. The aim of this objective was to work (wherever possible) in partnership to provide joined-up solutions to identified needs and to collectively ‘draw down’ funding for projects across Monmouthshire. Over the course of the three years MHA has developed and led the Monmouthshire Financial Inclusion Partnership. The partnership has agreed terms of reference and has delivered on a number of joint initiatives including: •

The development of ( - This is a website offering Financial Advice and Employment Support available to all residents of Monmouthshire and frontline advisors.

The delivery of a Frontline Financial Inclusion Event - MHA led the partnership which developed a training session offered to Monmouthshire County Council and voluntary sector staff to raise awareness of which FI services are available across the County, promoting joined up working. The partnership is now planning similar training events in the future.

Handover of the partnership to Local Authority - MHA have, in leading the partnership, demonstrated the benefits of joined-up working and have successfully transferred the partnership to Monmouthshire County Council. This is a key outcome which means the FI agenda has been highlighted and the strategic lead has now been taken on by the local authority.

Joint funding - MHA was able to reference the partnership working in their funding bid to the DWP for the Money Wise Project. MHA gained £25K as a result which allowed MHA to kick start the Money Wise Project.


MHA very early on was recognised as an example of good practice and featured in the Charted Institute of Housing’s briefing as the example of good practice from Wales in June 2009. As a result MHA has been invited to speak at a number of events which include: •

TPAS Cymru 2010 Annual conference - MHA delivered a presentation on key steps to managing and saving money.

Presentations at FI Network on FI and our approach - MHA delivered a presentation on a needs-led approach to FI through the combined efforts of tenants, staff, internal and external partners.

Presentation at FI Network on FI, FC and basic skills - MHA delivered a presentation on how Basic Skills are integral to delivering any form of Financial Capability.

HouseMark Performance Improvement Club - MHA delivered a presentation on the outcomes of FI and FC, progress made and our links to employability.


The work conducted over the last three years has laid the foundations for us to build on. The infrastructure at MHA now enables us to move the Financial Inclusion, Financial Capability and Employability agendas forward in the form of two operational initiatives: Work and Skills Wise and Money Wise. The Work and Skills Wise Project will deliver the Financial Capability, Empowerment and Employability work, the Money Wise Project will deliver Financial Inclusion, face-to-face advice and some Financial Capability work. Cross referrals between the two projects should result in a holistic advice and support service. This will work hand-in-hand with Tenant Participation and Community Investment work, demonstrating a more joined up inclusion agenda at MHA. The focus of the Work and Skills Wise and Money Wise initiatives will now be to capture outcomes and demonstrate value for money in the long-term. This approach has at its heart MHA’s long term vision of engaging our tenants to enable them to become more financially included and capable, while also equipping tenants with the skills needed to gain and retain employment, thus having implications for sustained income maximisation.

• Money Wise

delivering Money, Help & Advice

• Work & Skills Wise

promoting Education, Raising Aspiration & Building Confidence 28

If you live in the Caldicot or Chepstow areas, call Matt on: 07792 596915 or email him on matthew.taylor@ If you live in the Abergavenny, Monmouth, Raglan and Usk areas, call Sarah on:07725 824800 or email her on sarah.jones@

If you have any questions about the Work & Skills Wise Project, call Jade on: 01495 767156 or email her on jade.west@ For more information on Financial Inclusion & Employment Work, please contact the Inclusion Co-Ordinator, Farida Aslam on 01495 761116 or

General Correspondence

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Monmouthshire Homesearch

Financial Inclusion Outcome Report 2008-11  

Financial Inclusion Outcome Report 2008-11

Financial Inclusion Outcome Report 2008-11  

Financial Inclusion Outcome Report 2008-11