Lottery pledges £30 million to prevent cycle of debt
A £30 million initiative is being deployed by the BIG Lottery Fund to help some of the country’s most financially vulnerable people to get a better grip on their finances.
BIG’s Improving Financial Confidence programme will specifically focus on social housing residents, as they are often most likely to be financially excluded. The funding will support projects across England to help individuals and families to avoid getting into financial difficulties.
Lottery grants of £500,000 to £1 million will be available for 3 to 5 year projects delivered by partnerships led by voluntary sector organisations.
Sanjay Dighe, Chair of BIG’s England Committee said: “The current period of economic stress has highlighted the divide between those who have access to a range of financial products, services and good quality advice, and those who are financially excluded. Financial exclusion can place a huge burden on individuals and their families and can lead further to social exclusion.
“Many people are unable to access or use basic financial services and products such as bank accounts, contents insurance, credit cards or affordable loans and instead fall into a trap of using high cost doorstep lenders, getting themselves into a debt spiral. This can make it difficult for people to manage their money, cope with financial pressures and plan for the future. It can also mean that everyday things such as household bills become more expensive. Research from Save the Children calculated the ‘poverty premium’ paid by poorer households for a range of essential goods and services is over £1,300 a year.
“With this programme, BIG aims to help people overcome these issues by giving them skills and confidence to choose, access and use financial services suitable to their individual needs.”
To maximise the impact of its funding, BIG is targeting funding at 69 local authority areas which financial advice research shows have the most financially excluded residents.
The programme will also focus in particular on supporting social housing tenants that are moving in and out of work, or are in their first 12 months of tenancy, or young people in social housing.
Social housing providers will engage with the most in need residents to enable them to understand the relevance of financial inclusion and capability services. Voluntary sector partnerships will be expected to work with at least one major housing association and other relevant organisations from the area including advice providers and the local authority.
A consortium led by the National Housing Federation carried out an initial scoping study to establish the need for action in this area; and worked with BIG to help develop this funding programme.
Sanjay Dighe, Chair of BIG’s England Committee continued: “As part of our commitment to People Powered Change, applicants to Improving Financial Confidence will also need to demonstrate the involvement of the people who will benefit from it through its design and delivery. Ideas need to be powered by the people who will be the beneficiaries.”
In addition to Improving Financial Confidence, funding for debt advice and support projects continues to be available through BIG’s Reaching Communities funding programme
BIG will be accepting applications for Improving Financial Confidence from Tuesday 24 May to Friday 16 September 2011. Organisations interested in applying to Improving Financial Confidence programme should visit our website for more information