Citizens Advice and partners show how social housing landlords can help tenants be £40 a month better off
20 September 2012
Citizens Advice today launches the results of a unique survey of 150 social housing tenants, funded by Santander, which shows how the tenants could be £10 per week better off as a result of one-to-one financial skills training by their landlords.
Participants of the training, which took part over a nine month period, comprised 70 per cent women. 38 per cent were aged 25-45 and 39 per cent were 45 or over. 66 per cent lived in households where there was no earned income, while 52 per cent lived in households with an income of less than £200 per week.
As well as 71 per cent of tenant learners reporting higher financial confidence as a result of the training (compared to just 13 per cent of a comparison group), other positive changes reported by the majority of tenant learners included:
- 78 per cent had changed how they manage their money since the training, compared with only 36 per cent of the comparison group
- Tenant learners who changed their saving behaviour saved, on average, an extra £11 per week
- 13 per cent had either opened or switched bank account, or opened a credit union account, compared with three per cent of the comparison group
- 18 per cent planned to open a credit union account, while none of the comparison group had any such plans.
Before-and-after surveys showed that tenants who took part, compared with a group of Orbit Heart of England social housing tenants who lived in areas where the training wasn't offered, were more likely to improve their financial skills, gain financial confidence and access appropriate financial products.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive at Citizens Advice, said:
"We hope that these results, and the best practice that came out of the project delivery, will encourage housing providers to work together in partnership with the Citizens Advice service nationally and locally. This will be particularly beneficial to tenants at a time when tenant finances are coming under increasing pressure with welfare reforms and the economic downturn."
Jaime Graham, director at Santander, said:
"We are a longstanding supporter of Citizens Advice financial capability work and this important piece of research demonstrates the positive impact and benefits that financial education can deliver. Not only is access to guidance and advice in this area especially important in the current economic climate, it will also help people to manage their finances in the future. We believe that the government, financial services sector and financial education charities need to work together to ensure that everyone, and in particular people living on low incomes, can access the financial services and products that they need, as well as information to help them understand the basics of money management."
'Quids in: The impact of financial skills training for social housing tenants' is the result of an in-depth financial skills training research project, carried out in partnership with the University of Bristol and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CiH). Orbit Heart of England (OHE) social housing tenants from Rugby and Stratford volunteered for the free financial skills training sessions delivered between June 2011 and March 2012 by Bedworth, Rugby and Nuneaton CAB (BRANCAB).
Janet is in her late 40s and lives with her husband and children. They are just about keeping up with the bills, but before the CAB financial skills training Janet was concerned about their finances, and often had what she called "skint weeks".
Because of her limited mobility, Janet was offered a one-to-one training session in her own home. The CAB trainer was there for around two hours.
Janet found the session very helpful and positive, and credits it with significantly changing the way she thinks about money matters. The training gave her the impetus to start managing her money more effectively, by keeping a detailed spreadsheet of the household's incomings and outgoings.
Janet found the tips on shopping particularly useful. Since the training several months ago, she has changed the stores where she shops, buys fewer branded goods, buys in bulk and plans family meals. As a result of these changes, she is able to save around £20 a week into a high interest savings account (which she opened following the training) and feels far more secure about her finances than before. She has passed on the tips she learned from the training to several members of her family, including one who went on to attend the CAB financial skills training too.
Anne works part-time as a shop assistant. She recently reduced her working hours to care for her husband. This created financial difficulties for them, which prompted Anne to seek help from the CAB. In turn, the CAB adviser told her about the CAB financial skills training.
Anne attended a training session with about 10 other people. The group setting was OK, but she was too embarrassed to ask questions about her own situation in front of other people.
She found the advice and information helpful and said "it all made sense". She has found it hard to put some of the advice into practice, however, because the main problem her and her husband face is lack of money.
Even so, Anne has made some changes to the way she manages her money as a result of the training. Primarily she has changed the way she pays her bills, to ensure that her priority bills (rent, Council Tax) are paid first - as soon as her earnings are paid into her account. This has left her feeling more "relaxed" about managing her money. She has also put some of the money saving tips into practice. While she still isn't able to save any money, she feels that their finances are less of "a juggling act". Anne would like the training to be run on a drop-in basis, like a "support group", where she would feel more comfortable asking questions.
Notes to editors
- The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more information in England and Wales see www.citizensadvice.org.uk
- The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality. For online advice and information see www.adviceguide.org.uk
- Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.1 million clients on 6.9 million problems from April 2011 to March 2012. For full 2011/2012 service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
- Out of 22 national charities, the Citizens Advice service is ranked by the general public as being the most helpful, approachable, professional, informative, effective / cost effective, reputable and accountable (nfpSynergy’s Brand Attributes survey, May 2010).
- Most Citizens Advice service staff are trained volunteers, working at around 3,500 service outlets across England and Wales.