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Topic on a Page - Financial Inclusion

Citizen Advice Case Study

Data
Sources:

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

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

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

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: Aug-19

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 within 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.

Context

National Strategies, Policies & Guidance

The Money and Pension Service is a new organisation created by the government under the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018. It brings together the Money Advice Service, Pension Wise and the Pensions Advisory Service. Between April and June 2019 the Money and Pensions Service gathered stakeholder views as they started to develop their National Strategy and three-year corporate plan which will be published in the autumn. This process was supported by a Listening Document to assist dialogue with stakeholders about their evidence base, priorities and ambitions for the period 2020-2023.

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 finds that 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.

'The Financial Capability Strategy Lessons Learned Report' was published in 2019. It reflects on work over the last three years based on the 'Financial Capability Strategy' published in 2016, and will be used to inform the Money and Pensions Service future strategies and activities.

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 report contains recommendations to financial services industry, regulators, policy makers and healthcare professionals.

'Challenges and opportunities for supporting debt advice clients in vulnerable situations', published in November 2018 by Money and Mental Health, presents evidence on the experience, challenges, and opportunities that debt advisers face when working with clients in vulnerable situations (including those with mental health problems).

The Centre for Responsible Credit's 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, 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.

House of Lords Select Committee on Financial Exclusion 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.

In November 2017 the Select Committee Report was followed by the '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 Department for Work and Pensions report Improving Lives Helping Workless Families published in April 2017 identifies problem debt as one of a number of barriers to taking the opportunities on offer in a fairer society.

The 'Financial Inclusion Policy Forum' brings together leaders on financial inclusion to ensure collaboration across government and within the sector. Their Financial Inclusion Report published March 2019 provides an update on progress and looks ahead at how the government plans to build on existing work over the next twelve months.

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.

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 2016' highlights financial exclusion as a risk factor for mental ill health and suicide. This plan is currently under review.

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. For further detailed information on the relationship between carers and financial inclusion please refer to the JSNA Carers topic.

What is the picture in Lincolnshire?

What the data is telling us

Deprivation

  • Of the 420 lower super output areas (LSOAs) within Lincolnshire, 58 sit within the top quintile of deprivation, where they are in the 20% most deprived areas in England.
  • These LSOAs 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 Scarbrough & Seacroft wards have the highest number of LSOAs in the top quintile.

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

Source: 2015 English Indices of Multiple Deprivation

Children in poverty

  • The latest published figures show that as of 2016, there are 22,320 dependent children aged under-20 in Lincolnshire living in low income families. This is equivalent to 15.9% of all children under 20 and is lower than the regional and national averages of 16.3% and 17% respectively.
  • The proportion of children living in low income families is higher than regional and national averages in both East Lindsey and Lincoln at 21.7% and 20.8% respectively. These district areas have a large proportion of LSOAs 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 12.4% and 10.1% 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 this had declined to 15.2% by 2015. There was a slight increase again in 2016, to 15.9%, however the number of children under 20 living in low income families has not changed since 2015 (22,320).
  • When compared to other areas within the East Midlands, Lincolnshire has an average proportion of children living in poverty. Regionally, Nottingham has the highest, at 29.2%, while South Northamptonshire has the lowest, at 5.9%.
  • Levels of child poverty in Lincoln and East Lindsey place them among the top five authorities across the East Midlands for this indicator.

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

Fuel poverty

Economy

  • In 2018 the employment rate in Lincolnshire was marginally higher than the national rate and almost comparable to the rate in the East Midlands, with 75.7% of economically active people being in employment.
  • For those claiming Jobseekers allowance (JSA), 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 there was a JSA claimant rate of 1.5%, but in the winter the rate peaked at 2.4%.
  • Around 90,500 working-age people (16-64) in Lincolnshire are economically inactive, with around 20,300 long-term sick, 18,400 students, 20,400 looking after family/home and 20,300 retired.
  • Rates of long-term sickness are particularly prevalent in North Kesteven (29.2%) and West Lindsey (26.3%), and lowest in South Kesteven (13.9%).

Source: ONS, Jobseekers Allowance/Labour Force Survey, Jan-Dec 2018, accessed via NomisWeb

Earnings

  • Average earnings in 2018 vary in Lincolnshire, by gender as well as by where a person lives and works.
  • In Lincolnshire the median gross weekly salary of residents is £500 (this includes both full and part time), compared to £571 nationally.
  • There is a clear gender gap in paid salaries, with males getting paid more on average than females; with the median weekly salary for a male being around 30% higher than the median for females. Even when adjusted for those in full time work only, the male median salary is 24% higher; this reflects the picture nationally.
  • .
  • In Lincolnshire there is disparity in earnings across district areas, with median weekly earnings of residents lower in Boston and Lincoln, while South Holland and West Lindsey have median weekly salaries closer to those seen nationally.
  • 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. In areas such as Boston and Lincoln which have a higher proportion of deprived areas, median wages are lower. North Kesteven, which has the highest median wage in Lincolnshire, has an annual median wage which is 42% higher than Boston's median. Around one quarter of jobs nationally are paid below the National Living Wage Foundation (NLWF) 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 seven 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 seven times the median salary.

Source: ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) accessed via NomisWeb, 2018

Benefits

  • Out of work benefits fluctuated across Lincolnshire through 2018, with between 23,700-25,700 people in Lincolnshire claiming Employment Support Allowance.
  • East Lindsey has a particularly pronounced spike in claimants across winter months due to it its 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 2016 and 2018 the average number of people claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) in Lincolnshire fell by 3% from 25,600 to 24,900. This masks variations at district level, as North Kesteven has seen an increase of 4.2% in ESA claimants, while South Kesteven has seen a 13.5% decline in ESA claimants during this period.
  • The average weekly amount of Pension Credit support increased by 2.9% between 2016 and 2018 and stood at £50.77 per week in 2018. At district level, the highest average weekly amounts of Pension Credit were seen in Boston (£54.86) and Lincoln (£52.45) and lowest in South Holland (£48.86) and South Kesteven (£49.35).

Source: ONS, DWP Benefits, 2016-2018 (Feb, May, Aug, Nov), accessed via NomisWeb

Trend

Projections indicate that the population of Lincolnshire is expected to increase by 10.7% from 744,800 in 2016 to 824,400 in 2041. This increase means the demand for advice and support services is likely to increase if levels of need remain constant.

Lincolnshire has an ageing population and this trend will continue, with the proportion of people over 75 years of age projected to increase by 87% between 2016 and 2041 (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.

A National Citizens Advice report suggests that welfare reform has affected levels of indebtedness; their evidence shows 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. 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 (information for these areas can be accessed via the OFCOM Broadband and mobile coverage checker ).

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 (LSOAs) in Lincolnshire, 58 sit within the top quintile of deprivation, where they are in the 20% most deprived areas in England. However Indices of Multiple Deprivation (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 and carers are some of those most commonly excluded from financial services (Source: Financial Inclusion Commission).

'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 report from 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 in income and those who have a sudden life shock and quickly take on debt – having not borrowed before. Problem debt means a person is unable to afford their debt repayments.

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). The Money and Pensions Service is considering the issues of needs, vulnerability and equality in the development of their National Strategy detailed in their Listening Document. They propose to take the following definition as the starting point:

'Vulnerable circumstances in relation to managing money or pensions should be seen as arising from one or a combination of:

  • someone’s individual characteristics, such as having a limiting health or mental health condition;
  • their particular circumstances at a certain point in their life, such as after a bereavement; and
  • the behaviour of the organisation that they are dealing with, for example failing to adjust a service by communicating with a consumer according to their preference when they have a particular disability.'

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).

The Money and pensions Service Listening Document states that there is a pension gap between women and men, with women currently entering retirement with just half the pension wealth of men.

The Age UK Publication 2019 'Struggling on' describes people's experience of financial hardship in later life. The report states that 2 million pensioners in the UK live in poverty and in England, 3.8 million people aged 65+ (38 per cent) have had to stop certain activities, such as replacing or repairing electrical goods and having friends and family round for dinner, because they could not afford it.

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 UK State of Caring Report 2019 notes that almost 2 in 5 (39%) of carers say that they are struggling to make ends meet. Just under half of all carers (46%) say that they can afford their bills without struggling financially, however 21% are or have been in debt as a result of caring, 8% cannot afford utility bills and 4% cannot afford their rent/mortgage payments. Of those carers who are struggling to make ends meet, 44% are relying on their savings and 36% are using credit cards. A third of carers who are struggling financially (33%) are using their bank account bank account overdraft, 15% are falling into arrears with utility bills, and 9% are falling into arrears with their housing costs i.e. rent or mortgage payments. Six percent of carers who are struggling to make ends meet have said that they have used food banks and 3% have used payday loans.

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). Further information can be found in the Educational Attainment JSNA Topic.

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. Being online also enables easier access to information and application for jobs.

The 2019 Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index reports that one-fifth of the population do not have foundational digital skills and 17.3 million working people (53%) in the UK do not have the essential digital skills required for work.

Over 79% of all digital exclusion is found among those aged 65 and over (Source: Age UK: Digital Inclusion Evidence Review 2018).

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 provide free, confidential and impartial debt and welfare benefits advice and financial capability support as part of their holistic information, advice and assistance service. Links to the relevant Citizens Advice Bureaux can be found at:

Help to Claim was launched in April 2019. It is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions for one year. Help to Claim offers support to people claiming Universal Credit in the early stages of their claim from the application through to the first correct full payment. It is a dedicated service provided by Citizens Advice and is free, independent, confidential and impartial. Trained advisers offer help with things such as gathering evidence for applications or preparing for a first Jobcentre appointment. The service can be accessed by telephone (free phone number), online and face to face at local Citizens Advice offices.

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 provided by Age UK Lincoln & South Lincolnshire. Lincs2Advice promotes the self-care agenda through a web based model including offering an information and signposting service for all adults' and children’s services across Lincolnshire. A network of over 300 organisations are established members of the current service which facilitates signposting to localised specific support including information on money and legal matters.

Food banks – including the Trussell Trust, and independent food banks can be located throughout the county.

Housing Associations offer financial inclusion support to their tenants.

The Wellbeing Service offers a brief period of support to eligible clients focusing on their independence. It is contracted to East Lindsey District Council and delivered by a partnership of all seven Lincolnshire District Councils, known as Wellbeing Lincs The Service offer includes information and advice on housing, health and money management.

Voluntary and Community Groups (including faith groups) include The Stump at Boston and X Church in Gainsborough. Also Spilsby New Life Centre, Storehouse Skegness, Trinity Centre Louth, Hope House Mablethorpe and Alford Community Centre supporting residents to access support and offer digital and budgeting advice.

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 focused savings and loans provider for anyone living or working in Lincolnshire.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team investigates and prosecutes illegal money lenders. Each team is comprised of specialist investigators and Liaise Officers who have previously worked for the police, trading standards, and debt advice services. The LIAISE team 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.

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.

Responders 2 Warmth is managed by Lincolnshire Community Foundation and offers practical interventions for those who need support to keep warm. The Scheme runs from December to March. The Foundation responds quickly and provides support to people left vulnerable as a result of inadequate or no form of heating during the cold winter months by providing oil filled radiators, electric fan heaters etc.

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 Help to Claim 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, due to emerging areas, such as the end of the Lincolnshire Community Assistance Scheme supporting people at time of crisis and the Citizens Advice Income Maximisation project providing specialist welfare benefits advice, 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 could 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 (which can be located in 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. Welfare benefits are consistently the highest area of enquiry for Citizens Advice in Lincolnshire.
  • Case studies from Citizens Advice
  • Lincolnshire Credit Union – experience shows 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.
  • 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.’

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'). This research shows improvements across a range of health and wellbeing indictors demonstrating the positive impact that advice services have on peoples' lives.

The Improving Lives Helping Workless Families report published by the Department for Work and Pensions in April 2017 noted that there is a well-established association between problem debt and poor mental health (Fitch et al, 2007). Problem debt is found to be a common correlate with depression, anxiety and even self-harm (Hatcher, 2004; Maciejewski et al, 2000; Reading and Reynolds, 2001; Gathergood, 2012). As well as being exposed to the negative impacts of poor parental mental health and relationship breakdown, problem debt can also mean cutting back on basic necessities, such as food and clothes (Hartfree and Collard, 2014).

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?) found that 80% of those GPs interviewed said that non-health queries related to 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 into a local context, however the 'what should we be doing next' section in this commentary supports greater understanding of the risks for Lincolnshire.

If financial inclusion support services are not in place there may be 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 Government's 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. A pilot scheme on the 'managed migration' process of moving people who still receive legacy benefits to Universal Credit will start in July 2019. The completion of moving legacy benefit claimants to Universal Credit is set to finish by December 2023. People with long term health conditions and health conditions are more likely to be digitally excluded and may need additional support.
  • Support through Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit is limited to 2 children per family for children born since April 2017.
  • The ongoing move from DLA to PIP will continue to impact on the need for client support.
  • 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 reduced from £500 per week to £442 in London and £385 outside of London from November 2016. This will include housing benefit to pay rent. With more people affected, more could struggle to pay their housing costs. More information can be found in the Housing & Health JSNA Topic commentary.
  • There are benefit changes for mixed age couples; when single people reach State Pension age, they move from working age benefits to pension age benefits. Couples could choose to make that transition when the older partner of the couple reaches State Pension age. From May 2019 there was a change in the rule for couples so that the transition takes place when the younger partner reaches State Pension age.
  • Brexit impacts on ESF funding and the potential change in population demographics.
  • Potential public transport cuts (bus routes) will impact on connectivity. For further information please refer to the Access to Transport JSNA topic.
  • 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.
  • Funeral Poverty is an emerging issue. Background information in the House of Commons Library published 6 September 2018 noted that official statistics are not available on the average cost of funerals however research carried out by insurance organisations provide indicative figures.

What should we be doing next?

Recognising that this JSNA topic was only created in 2016, 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 comprehensive service provision throughout the county.
  • Developing an understanding of the strategic linkages that exist between financial inclusion and other JSNA topic areas (see the Linked Topics area on the Financial Inclusion topic 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

 

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