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Sustainable solutions to financial exclusion

13 September 2012

In this guest blog, Ecorys’ Rachel Gardner and Laurie Day explain how the impact of BIG’s Improving Financial Confidence programme will be evaluated and communicated.

The Big Lottery Fund’s £31.7m Improving Financial Confidence investment aims to identify practical, sustainable solutions to financial exclusion. BIG have funded 37 projects across England that will test a range approaches to addressing financial exclusion and, through a robust and systematic evaluation of the impact these projects have, they aim to identify best practice and make a persuasive business case for social housing landlords to adopt these approaches in the long term.

Improving Financial Confidence targets social housing tenants at risk of personal debt

Improving Financial Confidence targets social housing tenants at risk of personal debt

Ecorys and the Personal Finance Research Centre will be leading this evaluation using a range of techniques to measure the impact IFC-funded projects have both on individuals’ financial capability and confidence, and the financial impact on social housing landlords in terms of tenancy retention.

Where projects develop work that brings benefits for both individuals and social landlords, we will identify approaches and highlight them for potential rollout across the wider sector.

To do this, we will focus on some key indicators of success. For individuals, we will collect ‘before’ and ‘after’ data tracking the changes in attitude to finance and the way individuals manage financial decisions, and compare these changes amongst IFC project beneficiaries and those social housing tenants who do not take part in the initiative. We will also carry out longer term case studies to get a more detailed picture of how such interventions may change the way individuals engage with financial inclusion work.

For social housing landlords, we will collect data to measure the financial impact these projects have on things like rent arrears and failed tenancies which can bring a host of costs on to the landlord. This data will help us to understand whether or not there is a business case for landlords to invest in financial inclusion, and which IFC-funded initiatives bring about the greatest return on this investment.

Some results may start to appear early on, and we plan to share these findings on a continuous basis throughout the evaluation. Through workshops and learning events, and a series of in-depth case studies, we will be highlighting IFC project approaches that have been particularly effective.

The evaluation team would be delighted to hear from you if you want to find out more about the evaluation. For more information and contact details take a look at our Improving Financial Confidence web tool.

Rachel Gardner is Research Manager at Ecorys. Laurie Day is the organisation’s Associate Director.

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