New resources to support learners take control of their finances

9th September 2013

Two new resources for providers who support homeless adults, young people and those on benefits or a low income to take control of their finances, have been launched by NIACE in partnership with Citizens Advice, Homeless Link and the Olive Tree Trust.

Talking About Money covers a range of sections including keeping track of money, planning how to spend it, setting up a bank account, managing benefits and paying off debt. Each section has been designed with an element of choice so that the conversation can be guided by the learner. Maths and Managing Money illustrates through learners’ stories how financial learning can help adults take back control of their lives, improve their confidence and gain independence.

Both resources are available to download for free and aim to dispel the fear of talking about money issues, encourage learners to reflect on their own experiences and inspire other adults to develop and improve their own money skills.

Sue Southwood, NIACE Programme Manager, said:

“The introduction of Universal Credit will increase the need for many people on benefits to address money issues and improve their confidence in maths. A small scale NIACE survey revealed four main issues for homeless adults: formal (such as pay day loans) and informal (borrowing from people you know) debt; lack of access to financial services like a bank account; issues with claiming benefits; and budgeting on a very low income. Formal and informal debt was a crucial issue for around half of respondents and 44% suggested that a lack of budgeting skills was a key contributing factor to poor financial management.

“Confidence in managing money is a fundamental life skill for all of us, but for people juggling their outgoings on very low incomes or benefits, it is critical to get it right. Our survey also showed that the absence of capable financial role models and spending time with peers with a similar short-term approach to spending can exacerbate the problem. Too often, many people wait until it’s too late before seeking help – ending up hungry, homeless and jobless.

“There is a huge demand for resources to improve financial capability engagement and we hope that both Talking about Money and Maths and Managing Money will be useful to a range of practitioners and advocates. These resources are linked to a new online course, Everyday Finance, which will be available in October.”

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Citizens Advice bureaux already deal with over two million debt problems a year and see the devastating impact that debt has on people’s lives. It’s more important than ever that people gain skills, knowledge and confidence to manage their money effectively.”

Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, said:

“There are many reasons why someone can end up without a roof, but without help, it can be difficult [for that person] to rebuild their life. That is why it is critical that agencies work together to help individuals build their resilience, as well as the skills they need to regain their independence, and avoid the crises that can trigger homelessness.”