Putting money advice where the need is: Evaluating the potential for advice provision in different outreach locations

Abstract

AIM: To evaluate money advice outreach services, located in prisons, Sure Start centres, credit unions, housing offices and schools, and aimed at areas or groups facing high levels of deprivation and financial exclusion. METHODOLOGY: The multi-phased evaluation includes a face-to-face survey in five different outreach location types; a process, effectiveness and early impact evaluation of the pilots, focussing on the provider perspective; and a mainly qualitative impact evaluation, focussing on target and client groups. RESULTS: All location types generally served a high proportion of people with demographics indicative of financial exclusion. Many interviewed visitors reported monetary problems and debt, with particularly severe problems found among visitors to credit unions and among prisoners. Many interviewees, notably the financially excluded, were not aware that there was a CAB or a solicitor within two miles of their home. 31 per cent of the non-prison interviewees and an alarming 90 per cent of prison interviewees reported not receiving any advice about their financial difficulties. However, most interviewees thought that the interview location was a good place to receive advice. In locations were advice services had recently been set up, 20 per cent of credit union interviewees reported having used the service and finding the advice useful, clear and friendly. CONCLUSION: Money advice outreach pilots could have a significant positive impact, and have the potential of meeting the core objective of providing money advice to disadvantaged, financially excluded and 'hard-to-reach' groups. This is because they are local, accessible and easy to get to, and do not involve expensive transport costs; they are visited frequently and consistently; and their (non-prison) locations are associated with familiarity and friendliness. Furthermore, the delivery of advice in person was by far the most preferred option.

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