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Topic on a Page - Financial Inclusion

Citizen Advice Case Study

Data
Sources:

Financial Inclusion - Supplementary Data Document
Published June 2018

PHE: Health Profiles

Data Profile: Poverty

House of Commons Library Briefing Papers:

Fuel Poverty Statistics in England – Look up tool

Household Debt: Key Economic Indicators

Poverty in the UK Statistics

Further Data Sources:

Scroll to the bottom of the page to view and compare further datasets

Supporting Information:

NHS Evidence:

Poverty

Inequalies

National Institute for Care and Health Excellence (NICE):

Excess winter deaths and illness and the health risks associated with cold homes [NG6] 2015

Local Government Briefing Health inequalities and population health [LGB4] 2012

Joseph Rowntree Foundation:

Monitoring poverty and social exclusion 2016

Income and Benefits

People

Society

Work

UK Poverty 2017

Joseph Rowntree Foundation/Child Poverty Action Group:

The cost of a child in 2017

HM Government:

Thriving at Work: a review of mental health and employers

A-Z of Benefits

Universal Credit

Child Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit

Housing Benefit

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Local Government Association (LGA):

Tackling gambling related harm – a whole council approach

Citizens Advice Bureau:

Financial Inclusion Research and Campaigns

Evaluating life-events focused money guidance

Managing Money on Universal Credit (Feb 2019)

Miscellaneous:

Resolution Foundation

University of Birmingham – Financial Inclusion Annual Monitoring Report 2017

The Food Foundation: Affordability of the UK's Eatwell Guide

Lloyds Bank UK: Consumer Digital Index 2018

National Audit Office: Tackling problem debt

House of Commons Library Briefing Papers:

ESA and PIP Reassessments

Help with Energy Bills

High Cost Consumer Credit: The new regulatory regime

The National Minimum Wage: rates and enforcement

Troubled Families Programme (England)

Universal Credit Roll-out: 2018-19

Linked Topics:

Topic last reviewed: Jun-18

JSNA Topic: Financial Inclusion

Background

Financial inclusion is defined by the Financial Inclusion Commission as the availability and uptake of essential financial services, at affordable costs, to every section of society. Financial inclusion ensures everyone in society has enough skills and motivation to use these services, and to benefit meaningfully from them. Financial capability, i.e. the awareness and skills necessary to participate in the financial system, is a key element which underpins inclusion.

Financial exclusion marginalises people and acts as a barrier in their lives. It reinforces social exclusion and exacerbates poverty. Financial exclusion is not just about unemployment, welfare benefits or those people who don't have a bank account; it can affect different kinds of people at any point in their lives. People may be vulnerable to financial exclusion when they experience divorce or separation, bereavement, illness or other life changes that impact on their budgets or capacity to cope financially. Financial exclusion constitutes a set of overlapping barriers, particularly for some vulnerable groups and might be one of several interrelated issues that a person is facing.

The links between social inequalities and health inequalities are well reported (Source: Fair Society; Healthy Lives: The Marmot Review 2010) and the impact of welfare advice in better health outcomes noted (Source: Advice Services Alliance and the Low Commission (2015) 'The Role of Advice Services in Health Outcomes').

The wide-ranging impact of financial exclusion means that there are links to a number of other JSNA topic areas, links to which are provided on this topic page. It is important to note that whilst recognising these links and impacts, the scope and focus of this commentary is to set out data and information relating to the core topic of financial inclusion, current services and activities supporting financial inclusion and gaps and needs.

As a relatively new topic area, without the history of a detailed needs analysis, this is a first step in identifying appropriate data and narrative to inform the Lincolnshire picture of financial inclusion for the JSNA. Further development of the financial inclusion topic can look to increasing the understanding of the strategic linkages with the other areas identified.

Context

National Strategies, Policies & Guidance

The Financial Inclusion Commission's report 'Improving the Financial Health of the Nation' published in March 2015 brings together evidence the Commission has gathered from around the country. It identifies the progress made towards financial inclusion as well as the significant gaps that remain and the challenges ahead. The report sets out a vision for a financially inclusive society and makes recommendations on what steps need to be taken to make this a reality. A September 2016 submission from the Financial Inclusion Commission provides an update and further recommendations.

A Submission from the Centre for Social Justice: Delivering a Life Chances Strategy’ published in March 2016, sets out a series of recommendations to the Life Chances Agenda. These recommendations include the introduction of a Universal Support programme alongside Universal Credit and 'help to save' incentivised savings schemes to help increase peoples financial resilience.

The evidence review undertaken through a joint project between the Advice Services Alliance and the Low Commission 'The Role of Advice Services in Health Outcomes' outlines key findings from 140 research studies in the field. The report, published in June 2015, includes a foreword by Sir Michael Marmot and compiles evidence of both the adverse health impact of social welfare law problems and the beneficial impact of receiving good welfare advice. A key finding is that the provision of good welfare advice leads to a variety of positive health outcomes and in addition addresses health inequalities highlighted in the Marmot Review 2010. The right advice at the right time helps people to manage their own lives, and promotes better physical and mental health. The significant correlation between debt and mental health is stated and the role that debt advice has in preventing the requirement for treatment and improving health outcomes for existing patients.

Published in August 2016 by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation report 'Counting the cost of UK poverty' estimates the public financial cost of poverty which comes from additional spending on public services when people need more support from the state. The report includes analysis of the impact of poverty on healthcare spending covering acute, primary and public health.

‘Navigating the New NormalWhy working families fall into problem debt and how we need to respond’ the 2015 report by Step Change Debt Charity explains research carried out by the national charity to understand the scale and factors contributing to people's problem debt and outlines key criteria for a comprehensive set of responses.

The Money Advice Service led on the development of ‘The Financial Capability Strategy’ published in October 2015 following wide consultation. The strategy puts in place a framework for improving the financial capability of people in the UK and places a strong emphasis on developing the evidence base and carrying out evaluation. It includes an action plan identifying priority areas.

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute June 2016 report ‘Money on Your Mind’ sets out a detailed analysis based on the experience of nearly 5,500 people who have lived with mental health problems. The objective of conducting the research was to deepen a shared understanding of the complex chains of causality that lead to the strong correlation between financial difficulties and poor mental health. Research is said to confirm the need for urgent action to help those with mental health problems stay out of financial difficulty, and to reduce the impact of financial difficulty on people and their families. The report contains recommendations to financial services industry, regulators, policy makers and healthcare professionals.

Centre for Responsible Credit report 'Britain in the Red Why we need action to help over-indebted households' August 2016 provides recommendations and guidance on actions to reduce household debt.

In December 2015 the Picker Institute, an international charity working across social and health care, published ‘Debt and Health: A Briefing’ focusing on the relationship between debt and health including the health related consequences of debt, the impact it can have on mental health and recommendations for prevention. The report outlines a set of policy measures and further research recommendations.

The Damage of Debt’ published by the Children's Society in September 2016 examines the links between problem debt and the mental and emotional wellbeing of children and young people. The report highlights how debt makes parents and children and young people feel anxious, out of control, ashamed and alone. The report states that problem debt is putting the mental health and wellbeing of children at risk, with almost a quarter of children in problem debt-ridden households feeling unhappy with their lives.

House of Lords Select Committee on Financial Exclusion chaired by Baroness Tyler of Enfield published the report 'Tackling financial Exclusion: A country that works for everyone' (March 2017). The report contains a number of recommendations, including the appointment of a designated Minster for Financial Exclusion and the production of a financial inclusion strategy. There are also recommendations regarding welfare reform and financial exclusion including abolishing the seven day waiting period at the start of the Universal Credit claim.

In November 2017 the Select Committee Report was followed by a Government response 'Government response to the final report of the Lords Select Committee on Financial Exclusion' The response notes the Government's commitment to work with industry, regulators and charities to tackle financial exclusion and sets out 22 recommendations. The 'House of Commons Briefing Paper on Financial Inclusion (Exclusion)' published in December 2017 outlines the development of government efforts to combat financial exclusion and to promote inclusion.

The paper notes that financial inclusion has been linked to various policy strands including improving financial literacy, reducing the influence of ‘loan sharks’ and payday lenders and supporting credit unions and the Post Office. Recently attention has widened on the impact of an ageing population and the increased role that digital delivery of services plays in both improving and worsening inclusion. A variety of policy strands have been tried with some notable successes. The policy is broadly supported by all parties.

The recently created 'Financial Inclusion Policy Forum' brings together leaders on financial inclusion to ensure collaboration across government and within the sector. The forum is co-chaired by the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and the Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion. The Forum’s mission is to ensure that people, regardless of their background or income, have access to useful and affordable financial products and services.

Citizens Advice regularly publishes policy research on issues affecting clients of their services. This includes research on 'debt and money' and 'welfare'. This evidence is used by Citizens Advice to campaign for changes in policies and services.

'Walking on Thin Ice: The cost of financial insecurity'- a new report from Citizens Advice published in February 2018 shows that people's finances are increasingly vulnerable to changes in income and unexpected expenses. The report notes that people with insecure incomes are more likely to borrow to pay for essentials like food, household bills and rent. 25% have used an overdraft to pay for essentials while similar proportions have used a credit card. People with insecure incomes are 5 times more likely to use high-cost credit.

National Citizens Advice's new report of March 2018 'Doorway to Debt' states that problems in the home credit market fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable within society. Analysis of client data shows that people who are struggling with home credit debts are particularly likely to be in vulnerable circumstances. Clients are typically female, out of work, on low incomes, and living in social housing. Nearly half (48%) have a long- term health condition or disability, compared with 18% of adults in England and Wales. Many are behind on household bills like council tax or water rates. 'Stuck in Debt' and 'Who is Stuck in Problem Debt' shows that people get into debt for a number of reasons. People are more likely to get into problem debt are those who have a drop income and those who have a sudden shock and quickly take on debt – having not borrowed before. Problem debt means a person is unable to afford their debt repayments.

Local Strategies & Plans

City of Lincoln Council; Lincoln Against Poverty: ‘Lincoln Anti-Poverty Strategy 2014 – 2020’. Helping people maximise their income is a high level objective of this strategy, including increasing income, increasing money management skills and confidence, providing more help when the household budget runs out and limiting the impact of expensive credit.

The ‘Lincolnshire Suicide Prevention Action Plan’ highlights financial exclusion as a risk factor for mental ill health and suicide.

The ‘Lincolnshire Financial Inclusion Position Paper’ was produced by the Lincolnshire Financial Inclusion Partnership and includes a commentary on, and aspirations and opportunities for financial inclusion in Greater Lincolnshire.

The Lincolnshire Joint Carers Strategy 2014-2018 includes a priority that carers are financially informed.

What is the picture in Lincolnshire?

What the data is telling us

Deprivation

  • Of the 420 lower super output areas (LSOA's) within Lincolnshire, 58 sit within the top quintile of deprivation, where they are in the 20% most deprived areas in England.
  • These LSOA's are dispersed across the County, although there are clusters on the east coast, particularly around Mablethorpe and Skegness; while areas such as Gainsborough, Lincoln, Grantham and Boston also have pockets of deprivation.
  • At local authority ward level, Mablethorpe, Minster and Scarborough & Seacroft wards have the highest number of LSOA's in the top quintile.

Further mapping on deprivation within Lincolnshire is available on the Lincolnshire Research Observatory.

Source: 2015 English Index of Multiple Deprivation

Children in poverty

  • The latest published figures show that as of 2015, there are 22,320 dependent children aged under 20 in Lincolnshire live in low income families. This is equivalent to 15.2% of all children under 20 and is lower than the regional and national averages of 15.7% and 16.6%.
  • The proportion of children living in low income families is higher than regional and national averages in both Lincoln and East Lindsey at 20.5% and 20.4% respectively. These district areas have a large proportion of LSOA's that sit within the top quintile for deprivation nationally (East Lindsey 37.9%, Lincoln 32.8%).
  • By contrast South Kesteven and North Kesteven have far lower levels of children in low income families, at 11.9% and 9.5% respectively.
  • Trends show that the proportion of children living in poverty in Lincolnshire increased from 15.7% in 2013 to 17.5% in 2014 but has seen a decline to 15.2% in 2015.
  • When compared to other areas within the East Midlands, Lincolnshire has average proportions of children living in poverty. Regionally, Nottingham has the highest, at 28.5%, while Rutland has the lowest, at 7.1%.
  • Levels of child poverty in Lincoln and East Lindsey place them among the top five authorities across the East Midlands, below Nottingham and Leicester only.

Source: PHE Fingertips, Public Health Outcomes Framework, Indicator 1.01i

Fuel poverty

Economy

  • In 2017 the employment rate in Lincolnshire was marginally higher than the national rate and almost 1 per cent higher than the rate in the East Midlands, with 75 per cent of economically active people being in employment.
  • In terms of those claiming Jobseekers allowance, the rates are highest in the districts of East Lindsey and Lincoln. However, East Lindsey in particular has seasonal peaks and troughs due to the seasonal nature of its labour market. This means that in summer 2017 it had a JSA claimant rate of 1.8 per cent, but in the winter the rate peaked at 2.7 per cent. Generally, unemployment is significantly lower in 2017 than it was in 2013/14 and does not fluctuate a great deal at present outside of seasonality.
  • Around 95,000 working-age people (16-64) in Lincolnshire are economically inactive, with around 27,000 long-term sick, 19,000 students, 20,000 looking after family/home and 12,500 retired. Lincolnshire has a higher proportion of long-term sick than the national rate, accounting for 29 per cent of all economically inactive, compared to 22 per cent nationally and 25 per cent regionally.
  • Rates of long-term sickness are particularly prevalent in the east of the county whilst the student population is particularly concentrated in Lincoln.

Source: ONS, Jobseekers Allowance/Labour Force Survey, Aug 2017, accessed via NomisWeb

Earnings

  • Average earnings in 2017 vary in Lincolnshire, by gender as well by where you live and work.
  • In Lincolnshire the median weekly salary of residents is £405 (this includes both full and part time), compared to £450 nationally and £422 regionally.
  • There is a clear gender gap in paid salaries, with men getting paid more on average than women; with the median weekly salary for a male being around 37 per cent higher than the median for females. Even if we adjust for those in full time work only, the male median salary is 22 per cent higher. However, this is reflection of the national picture also, to a greater extent in some places.
  • Within Lincolnshire there is disparity in earnings across district areas, with average earnings of residents generally lower in Boston and Lincoln, while South Kesteven and West Lindsey have average salaries that exceed both the Lincolnshire and East Midlands averages.
  • In Lincolnshire, resident based earnings are higher than workplace based earnings, which suggests that people are travelling to work outside their usual area of residence.
  • This variance can be seen within the county with resident based total earnings being much higher than workplace total earnings in North Kesteven, South Holland, South Kesteven and West Lindsey. As workplace based earnings are comparatively higher than resident based earnings in Boston, East Lindsey and Lincoln, it could be suggested that these areas are attracting workers at higher salaries from outside their district areas.
  • There is a clear gap between the average annual salary of someone living in the most deprived areas of Lincolnshire and the least deprived areas. This gap narrows in district areas with a higher proportion of disadvantaged areas such as Boston, East Lindsey and Lincoln.
  • Around one quarter of jobs nationally are paid below the National Living Wage Foundation living wage; however four districts in Lincolnshire have over one third of jobs which are below the NLWF threshold (Boston, East Lindsey, South Kesteven and West Lindsey).
  • Typically, housing in Lincolnshire is more affordable than in the East Midlands and England – with all 7 district areas being lower than England in terms of average house price to median salary ratio. Lincoln and East Lindsey have the most affordable ratio in the county, with South Kesteven having the least affordable housing at almost 7 times the median salary.

Source: ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) accessed via NomisWeb, 2017

Benefits

  • Out of work benefits have remained relatively static across Lincolnshire through 2017, with around 26,000 people in Lincolnshire claiming Employment Support Allowance.
  • East Lindsey has a particularly pronounced spike in claimants across winter months due to it having a labour market which is particularly reliant on seasonal jobs. This means that outside of spring/summer East Lindsey's out of work claimant rate rises considerably above the rate of all other districts. This pattern has been observed in the data since the statistics were first produced.
  • Between 2015 and 2017 the number of people claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) in Lincolnshire rose by 5 per cent. This is in line with regional increases but above the national change which actually saw a 1 per cent decrease over the same period.
  • West Lindsey has seen the largest growth in claimants in this period, with a 13 per cent increase between 2015 and 2017 which equates to around 400 additional claimants.
  • Over the same period, Boston is the only district in Lincolnshire where there has been a reduction in ESA claimants, with claims dropping by 3 per cent.
  • Between 2015 and 2017 the number of Pension Credit claimants in Lincolnshire decreased by 16 per cent, with all districts experiencing decreases of a similar magnitude.
  • The average weekly amount of in pension credit support increased by 3 per cent between 2015 and 2017 and stood at £50.27 per week in 2017.

Source: ONS, DWP Benefits, Aug 2017, accessed via NomisWeb

Trend

Population projections indicate that by 2039 the population growth of Lincolnshire will be 14% which is below the projected national growth rate of 17%; however the population in Lincolnshire is projected to increase by approximately 103,000. This increase means the demand for advice and support services is likely to increase if levels of need remain constant.

In addition Lincolnshire has an ageing population and this trend will continue, with the proportion of people over 75 years of age projected to increase by 95% between 2014 and 2039 (Source: Lincolnshire Research Observatory). This trend is likely to give rise to increased dependence on welfare benefits and increasing prevalence in health problems such as dementia, both potential barriers to financial inclusion. The rise in local needs is likely to lead to a consequential rise in service demands.

The demand for support services has increased, with the number of clients being supported to claim the benefits they are entitled to, by the Lincolnshire Citizens Advice Income Maximisation project, more than doubling between 2009/10 and 2015/16.

Welfare reform has affected levels of personal indebtedness. National Citizens Advice report that there has been a 10% increase in advice on council tax arrears, and clients coming to Citizens Advice with government debt has doubled between 2005/6 and 2014/15 (Source: Citizens Advice (2016) Catching up: improving council tax arrears collection). Due to welfare reform; benefit type, administrative processes and eligibility criteria have changed, making it difficult to navigate if and how claims should be made and increasing the need for support (Source: Citizens Advice 2016) Helping people find a way forward: A snapshot of our impact in 2015/16. It is expected that the roll out of Universal Credit will create a greater need for advice on benefits, digital inclusion (through the 'digital by default' approach) and financial capability and an increase in household debt (Source: Citizens Advice, 2015).

A further effect of welfare reform is the trend in decreasing numbers of Pension Credit claimants, due to changes in pension age.

As the digital age advances and more products and services move online, digital inclusion plays an increasingly fundamental role in financial inclusion. Factors contributing to digital exclusion are people's digital skills and their access to the internet. 15.2% of the Lincolnshire population are non-internet users giving the county the second highest non-internet user rate in England (Source: ONS: Internet use in the UK: what are the facts?). Some Lincolnshire residents may have the capability and equipment but no internet access due to rural location (trackable through OFCOM).

Trends show that the proportion of children living in poverty in Lincolnshire has remained the same between 2012 and 2013, but has fallen since 16.5% in 2011.

For further information please see the Supplementary Data Document.

Key Inequalities

Whilst poor financial decision making can affect all people the impact is bigger on those with lower incomes who will suffer a greater loss of wellbeing because of poor decisions.

Irregular and unreliable incomes, such as those associated with zero hours contracts and seasonal work, do not easily align with financial services built around regular payments.

Of the 420 lower super output areas (LSOA's) within Lincolnshire, 58 sit within the top quintile of deprivation, where they are in the 20% most deprived areas in England. However IMD is not the only measure of vulnerability to financial exclusion. Financial exclusion affects a wide range of people at different times in their lives. National research evidences sections of the community most likely to be affected. In particular these include people with low or unstable incomes, or who have experienced a significant life shock. Lone parents, people new to the country, single pensioners, disabled people and the long-term unemployed are some of those most commonly excluded from financial services (Source: Financial Inclusion Commission).

Research has identified the key characteristics leading to over- indebtedness; being in rented accommodation, families with more than three children, single parents, having an income less than £10,000 and being aged between 25 and 34 (Source: Money Advice Service (2016) A Picture of Over indebtedness).

Mental health problems and debt interact so that each set of issues can cause or exacerbate the other. One in two adults with debts has a mental health problem. One in four people with a mental health problem is also in debt. Debt can cause - and be caused by - mental health problems (Source: Royal College of Psychiatrists).

74 per cent of older people in Great Britain say that compared to last year they are doing the same financially, but 19% say they are worse off (Source: Age UK Later Life UK Factsheet).

Taking on a caring role often results in a sharp reduction in household income, especially when leaving work or reducing hours to care, leaving carers vulnerable to financial exclusion. The Carers UK State of Caring Report 2017 notes that nearly 4 out of 10 carers (39%) described themselves as struggling to make ends meet. In the Carers UK annual State of Caring Survey 2017 as many as 8% of those responding to the survey said they were living in a household receiving under £500 in monthly income. A large number of carers reported being forced to use their savings (30%), credit cards (26%) or bank account overdrafts (23%) to help them make ends meet. Others reported borrowing from family or friends (17%). Altogether, over 1 in 5 (22%) carers struggling to make ends meet said they are in or have been in debt as a result of caring.

The links between low educational attainment levels and poverty make educational attainment relevant to financial inclusion. Furthermore a lack of basic skills in literacy and numeracy can impact on financial capability including managing household budgets, paying bills, comparing deals and coping with debt. Five million adults in the UK lack basic reading, writing and numeracy skills essential to everyday life and being able to find and secure work (Source: Joseph Rowntree Foundation).

Fuel poverty represents a significant social consequence to financial exclusion. Fuel poverty is covered in depth in the Excess Seasonal Death & Fuel Poverty JSNA topic.

There are strong links between digital exclusion and financial exclusion. Those more likely to be digitally excluded are people who are on lower incomes, are disabled or have a long term health condition (Source: Citizens Advice (2016) Digital Capability). For those who are digitally excluded the 'poverty premium' can only increase as more organisations move online and non-digital products and services become more expensive. The Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2016 states that using the internet provides an average annual saving of £744 (£516 for low-income households) on spending, due to digital discounts and vouchers. Being online also enables easier access to information and application for jobs online.

Exclusion from the financial mainstream often means that consumers pay a ‘poverty premium’ for products and services and have less choice. It can impact their ability to find a job, maintain secure housing, stay physically and mentally healthy and be resilient to changes in income and expenditure. Financial inclusion interventions enabling people to improve their standard of living by maximising income through debts managed or benefits accessed helps mitigate the social inequalities that give rise to health inequalities.

Current Activity & Services

Citizens Advice in Lincolnshire provides free, confidential and impartial debt advice and financial capability support as part of their holistic information, advice and assistance service. The Income Maximisation Service supports people to claim all the benefits to which they are entitled, supporting claims and appeals for Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Carers Allowance, Pension Credit and Employment Support Allowance. A dementia support project ran until December 2016. Links to the relevant Citizens Advice Bureaux can be found at:

MoneyLincs is a project jointly funded by Big Lottery and the European Social Fund through the Building Better Opportunities programme. Money Mentors will deliver intensive debt and money advice and support. Client access to the project will be subject to eligibility criteria; clients will need to be unemployed or economically inactive. The project will run for three years from 1 October 2016.

Acts Trust is a Lincoln based charity. The Restore project works with people aged 16+ supporting them into a life free from poverty. Restore offers tangible aid such as food, clothing and furniture and advice and guidance.

Christians Against Poverty offer debt advice, money courses, job club and a release group.

Lincs2Advice is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation focusing on enabling people in Lincolnshire to access support and information, including money advice, through their network of members.

Food banks – including the Trussell Trust and independent food banks.

Housing Associations offer financial inclusion support to their tenants. These include L&H Homes (part of the Longhurst Group), Waterloo Housing Group, Boston Mayflower, and Acis Group in Gainsborough.

The Wellbeing Service offers a brief period of support to eligible clients focussing on their independence. This includes support with managing finances and benefit claims.

Voluntary and Community Groups (including faith groups) include The Stump at Boston and X Church in Gainsborough.

District Councils in Lincolnshire provide information, advice and support relating to money, debt and benefits at varying levels. Relevant information can be found at the following links:

Lincolnshire Credit Union is the local community based savings and loans cooperative for anyone living or working in Lincolnshire.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team works in partnership with local trading standards to investigate and prosecute loan sharks. The LIAISE team also provide support for those who have fallen prey to loan sharks and where appropriate signpost to agencies who can offer debt advice, counselling and support.

City of Lincoln Council provides funded educational courses at Lincoln College for people on a low income.

The Lincolnshire Carers Service provided by Carers FIRST offers a specialist benefits service to carers, offering a personalised and holistic approach to maximise the whole family income. The service can help families claim all the benefits to which they are entitled and can be contacted on Tel: 0300 303 1555.

Responders 2 Warmth delivers practical help offering a range of products and advice and through signposting to other services, linking to grants, loans, small aids (blankets, heaters etc.) and, in some cases, repair and installation schemes provided free by the energy companies.

The Lincolnshire Financial Inclusion Partnership (FIP) brings together a range of partners to promote and raise the profile of financial inclusion in the county. The FIP provides a forum for sharing good practice and information. Partners represent a diverse range of organisations from all sectors; public, private and voluntary and share a common goal of ensuring that everyone in Lincolnshire has the capability and opportunity to access appropriate financial products and services to participate fully in society.

Unmet Needs & Gaps

Current data and evidence is limited regarding unmet need. Local data exists on current activity and services such as the number of people in Lincolnshire obtaining income maximisation support and debt advice (including levels of debt) from Citizens Advice, the number of Lincolnshire Credit Union members and savings and loans and further data and information could be collated. However this does not illustrate the level of unmet need, nor identify those people who do not reach services that could support them to achieve financial inclusion.

Further needs and gaps that will arise, due to emerging areas, such as the end of the Lincolnshire Community Assistance Scheme supporting people at time of crisis, are as yet unknown. The current context of welfare reform and the impact this has and will have on financial inclusion will need to be taken into account. The changing environment of digital delivery, reduced budgets and different welfare arrangements is likely to create new barriers to exclusion for some people. It is anticipated that the roll out of Universal Credit may create a greater need for advice on benefits, digital inclusion and financial capability and an increase in household debt (Source: Citizens Advice, 2015).

Knowledge of the groups at risk of financial exclusion can support the targeting of services. Focussed engagement with partners could be carried out to gather detailed local evidence of unmet need. A further challenge in meeting need is that even where there are services available people do not always want to recognise their need for support or want to address it, for example with budgeting advice.

The views of the JSNA Financial Inclusion expert panel highlighted the following:

  • General support is available but there is need for crisis support.
  • There is a need for jobs with better wages in the county and training opportunities in Lincolnshire for skilled roles.
  • Need for greater access to affordable credit and education about affordable financial services.
  • For young people the PHSE curriculum should include financial capability, especially for children leaving care which represents an inequality. There is a need for money management and budgeting teaching in schools.
  • Need to recognise that gambling and other addictions are as socially and financially draining as drugs and alcohol addictions.
  • Need to understand the relationship between earnings and educational attainment and financial inclusion.
  • Better information and signposting is needed for debtors to encourage self-care.
  • Need for E learning, advice and guidance, recognising the link need between digital inclusion and financial inclusion.

Local Views & Insights

National sources (refer to the ‘Context’ section of this commentary) inform the picture of financial inclusion, evidencing the impacts of financial exclusion and noting the beneficial impact of advice and support.

The Lincolnshire Financial Inclusion Partnership brings together a range of partners from all sectors; public, private and voluntary. As a network, partners share information gained through their experience to understand the key issues surrounding financial exclusion in Lincolnshire.

Historically stakeholder engagement with a diverse range of partner organisations has been carried out through the Lincolnshire Financial Inclusion Partnership’s conferences.

Evidence on local views is owned by wider partner organisations through their stakeholder engagement, including that with service users. These include:

  • Universal Support Delivered Locally Trial (West Lindsey District Council, City of Lincoln Council and North Kesteven District Council Partnership) providing evidence of the personal budgeting and digital support needs in making and managing a Universal Credit claim. A national report ‘Evaluation of the Universal Support delivered locally trials’ was also published by DWP in July 2016.
  • Fit 4 Your Future Big Lottery Improving Financial Confidence Project in Boston – engagement through the project and evaluation illustrates the value of financial inclusion support.
  • Review of the Lincoln Anti-Poverty Strategy. This identified a growing issue with the in-work population – 66% of those in poverty are from working households.
  • Citizens Advice client feedback. This includes feedback on the positive impact of welfare benefits advice and support on clients and their ability to maintain independence.
  • Lincolnshire Credit Union – experience is that there is an inability to manage money by many members. Work at Lincoln Prison and North Sea Camp provides evidence of the need for budgeting support with these groups.
  • Boston Mayflower Affordable Warmth Department.
  • Data and Information regarding the Lincolnshire Community Assistance Scheme including Equality Impact Assessment.
  • Responders 2 Warmth – data on demand, provision and profile of their clients.

A call for evidence to partners for key messages and local insight would further inform ‘local views.’

Citizen Advice Services in Lincolnshire – Trend and Issues (Nov 2018)

Citizens Advice delivers confidential, impartial and quality assured advice and assistance through the network of local Citizens Advice offices and outreach locations in the county. This includes a core service across a broad range of advice areas including debt and money, benefits, housing and employment, consumer, relationships and family, discrimination, law and rights, tax and education. Advice is free and accessible to all. When providing those services the Citizen Advice Services in Lincolnshire collect and collate information about issues and problems faced by people and communities in the county. The provision of advice relating to financial inclusion issues means that Citizens Advice can provide insight into trends in this area.

For the first two quarters of 2018/2019 the top four categories of issue dealt with were consistently:

  • Benefits and tax credits
  • Debt
  • Employment
  • Housing

Examining welfare benefit issues further the areas of highest enquiry were (in order)

  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Employment Support Allowance
  • Other benefits issues

Other benefits issues include general enquiries on different benefits or more specifically benefits checks.
The top debt issues were:

  • Council Tax arrears
  • Credit, store and charge card debts
  • Debt Relief Orders

Citizens Advice in Lincolnshire has seen a steady increase in requests for support in issues related to Universal Credit as it has started to roll out across the county. In Quarter 1 of 2018/2019 the following issues were presenting problems to Citizens Advice clients on a local and national basis:

  • People not receiving their full claim on time as they were struggling to provide the evidence needed, for example 40% of clients found it difficult to evidence their full housing costs.
  • Additional delays putting people at risk of debt. Citizens Advice research shows that those who face delays in payment are 23% more likely to get into debt which can have a significant long term impact on their lives
  • Many people are struggling to make their claim – DWP research shows that many people make multiple attempts at completing their claim, with 1 in 4 Citizens Advice clients stating they have been trying for more than a week to make a claim before going to Citizens Advice for help
  • People needing support at the beginning of the claim process, particularly those with additional vulnerabilities who are unsure of the support available to them

In Quarter 2 of 2018/2019, there was an increase in the number of people requesting support from Citizens Advice on issues related to Universal Credit. More generally Citizens Advice highlighted a significant need for increased support around financial literacy, with an increase in clients, particularly the most vulnerable, who are struggling to budget appropriately. Where two salary payments have been received during a reporting period no Universal Credit payment is received. In the long run this should even out with higher payments the following month however the loss of Universal Credit can impact on passporting benefits (free prescriptions, school meals etc.) Clients have to manage the transition to monthly payments, requiring the skills needed to budget and plan ahead, which some are unable to do without appropriate support.

Citizen Advice Case Study

Risks of not doing something

The case for providing financial inclusion support is twofold. The risks of not doing something have both social and economic impacts.

In terms of the impact on people The Advice Services Alliance has produced ‘The Role of Advice Services in Health Outcomes' which provides evidence of the adverse health impact of social welfare problems and the beneficial impact of receiving good welfare advice. The provision of good welfare advice leads to a variety of positive health and wellbeing outcomes for clients. The right advice at the right time helps people to manage their own lives, and promotes better physical and mental health. The report also describes the significant correlation between debt and mental health and the role that debt advice has in preventing the requirement for treatment and improving health outcomes for existing patients.

Citizens Advice state that nearly 4 out of 5 debt clients say issues caused other difficulties in their life and 73% of debt clients felt stressed, depressed or anxious (Source: Citizens Advice (2014) National Outcomes and impact research quoted in (Source: Citizens Advice (2016) Helping people find a way forward: A snapshot of our impact in 2015/16). The effect of social welfare advice on physical and mental health has been researched by Citizens Advice nationally (Source: Citizens Advice (2014) Findings from national outcomes and impact research). The research shows improvements across a range of health and wellbeing indictors demonstrating the positive impact that advice services have on peoples' lives.

Not doing something carries potential financial implications for both people and support services. Financial inclusion information, advice and support services, including debt and benefits advice, provide cost effective ways to increase incomes in low income households which can lead to increased standards of living and reduced poverty. The financial cost of poverty which comes from additional spending on public services when people need more support from the state is illustrated in the report Counting the Cost of UK Poverty from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The preventative effects of financial inclusion education, advice and support are likely to reduce the burden on other support services. A study carried out by Citizens Advice (Caper, K & Plunkett, J (2015) A very general practice: How much time do GPs spend on issues other than health?) into non-health demands on GPs found that 80% of those interviewed said that non-health queries related in decreased time available to treat other patients’ health issues with 19% of their consultation time being spent on non- medical matters. Common issues raised included welfare benefits and debt.

Being able to manage debt and other financial problems during a prison sentence or upon release into the community could help to reduce re-offending (Source: CFEB quoted in Citizens Advice (2015) Financial Capability: A review of the latest evidence).

It is noted that there is limited information to translate this national research locally, however the 'what should we be doing next' (see below) in this commentary would support greater understanding of the risks for Lincolnshire.

The Lincolnshire Citizens Advice, Income Maximisation Project provides local case studies of the positive impact of welfare advice. With support to claim the benefits they are entitled to, clients can remain independent in their homes, and afford to access services to support them with daily living. Financial modelling could be carried out to illustrate the potential cost to public organisations of such advice not being available, factoring in health and social care costs which are likely to be long term. In addition, the increased income of clients gained as a result of their engagement with advice services may be used to spend locally. A reduction or loss of this income may result in reduced spending in the local economy.

If financial inclusion support services are not in place there is a risk of homelessness, increase in debt, a rise in fuel poverty, poor nutrition and increased poverty, including child poverty and health and wellbeing. There is a potential for people to drop out of education. As well as the personal impacts this could have on people’s lives there will be a resulting burden on support services including crisis services if preventative support is unavailable.

What is coming on the horizon?

  • The programme of welfare reform will continue:
    • Continued roll out of Universal Credit. This will impact on financial inclusion through the greater need for clear information and advice on benefits, financial capability and digital inclusion.
    • Support through Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit is limited to 2 children for children born from April 2017.
    • The ongoing move from DLA to PIP will continue to impact on the need for client support.
    • The benefit cap became active in November 2016.
    • Changes to in-work conditionality.
    • The Youth Obligation Support Programme is in place and is being rolled out in line with the roll-out schedule for Universal Credit.
    • ESA/Attendance Allowance delays may cause financial hardship.
    • Uncertainty for people about future benefits.
  • The benefit cap has been reduced from £500 per week to £442 in London and £385 outside of London. This will include housing benefit to pay rent. With more people affected, more will struggle to pay their housing costs. More information can be found in the Housing & Health JSNA Topic commentary.
  • The closure of the Lincolnshire Community Assistance Scheme in October 2016 will have impact on voluntary sector organisations as well as clients the impact of which is as yet unknown.
  • Brexit impacts on ESF funding and the potential change in population demographics.
  • CCGs are currently consulting on a range of prescriptions, which potentially could mean patients would have to buy some over the counter medicines and physiotherapy. This will impact on low income families that don’t qualify for free prescriptions.
  • Public transport cuts (bus routes) will impact on connectivity.
  • Cuts in public sector funding are likely to continue.
  • The likelihood of reduced grant funding to voluntary organisations due to public sector cuts may result in a double effect of greater demand on organisations with reduced funding.

What should we be doing next?

Recognising that this is a relatively new and developing JSNA topic there is a need to gain a clearer picture of financial inclusion in Lincolnshire. Therefore next steps could include:

  • Carrying out a Financial Inclusion Needs Assessment
  • Further mapping of current activity and services to ensure that there is a comprehensive picture.
  • Gaining a better understanding of the strategic linkages that exist between financial inclusion and other JSNA topic areas (see the Linked Topics area on the Financial Inclusion commentary web page) and local strategies and work streams in Lincolnshire.
  • Mapping the voluntary / community sector funding and public sector spending on financial inclusion alongside need and gaps.
  • Identifying hotspots in communities, towns and cities.
  • Widen the Financial Inclusion Partnership (FIP) membership to increase best practice in partnership working.
  • Develop opportunities for FIP to contribute to policy discussions.
  • Call for evidence to partners for information, key messages and local insight to inform this developing topic about:
    • Groups experiencing and at risk of financial exclusion in Lincolnshire.
    • Current services
    • Financial management advice and support
    • Unmet need and gaps

 

If you need to contact us about this topic, please email JSNA@lincolnshire.gov.uk