Citizens Advice has published a report highlighting the improvement its Financial Skills for Life programme has had on vulnerable groups.
Since 2002 Citizens Advice, with Prudential acting as a key funding partner, have been running nine pilot schemes across the country targeting ‘hard to reach’ groups such as young parents, care givers, mental health users and refugees and asylum seekers.
The report, published to coincide with a meeting this week on financial inclusion by the All Party Parliamentary Group on debt and finance, reveals over 6,000 people have benefited from the original nine pilot schemes.
But the figure looks set to increase as around 80 bureaux now provide some kind of financial capability work, helping people to budget, save and borrow within their means.
The report also includes key findings from the first independent assessment of the projects, which found those involved displayed greater confidence around personal finance.
According to the findings by ECOTEC Research and Consulting, people who were given financial help and information believed they:
- Were better equipped to head off potential debt problems
- Showed a greater understanding of budgeting and saving strategies
- Had better awareness of government entitlements and sources of help, improving their access to housing and training opportunities
- Were more willing to try new financial services and products
Citizens Advice also point out there are long term effects from the programme, as many participants surveyed a number of months later revealed they had changed their patterns of behaviour and were in better economic circumstances.
In addition almost all claim to have improved their savings position by still keeping to budgeting plans and taking effective measures to avoid debt, while many also felt confident enough to avoid poor financial deals and excessive borrowing.
As a result Citizens Advice says the programme will continue with help from Prudential, as well as extra significant funding from the Friends Provident Foundation and the Abbey Charitable Trust.
David Harker, chief executive of Citizen’s Advice, says the Prudential funded Financial Skills for Life programme has been central to the success of the bureaux working in this area already.
He adds: “The vision of Citizens Advice is by 2010 every advice bureau in England and Wales will be able to offer a financial capability service. Working with local partners, bureaux can improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, especially those facing financial and social exclusion.”
Sir David Clementi, chairman of Prudential, says many people have poor financial skills and it is in everyone’s interest consumers are well informed and confident about making major financial decisions.
He adds: “Prudential is delighted to be a key partner in the Financial Skills for Life programme. We can take real encouragement from what has already been achieved and look forward to our continuing partnership with Citizens Advice over the next few years."
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Nyree Stewart on 020 7968 4558 or email [email protected]IFAonline
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