Description of the programme
Age Cymru Swansea Bay received funding from the Money Advice Service to provide financial advice to 150 older people aged 65 and above. The advice was provided through both one-to-one appointments with an advisor, or through group seminars. The project ran over a nine-month period from March to November 2017.
The aim was to improve general financial capability by increasing money management skills, improving the financial knowledge of participants, and to instil financial confidence among those receiving advice. The advice given included:
- Understanding the benefits of ‘Lasting Power of Attorney’;
- Introducing and demystifying online banking and digital finance;
- Increasing awareness of financial scams and fraud;
- Explaining the range and purpose of financial services available to participants.
The overall objective of the evaluation was to assess the extent to which older people went on to take action to reduce financial risks and enhance their financial safeguarding, after the advice was dispensed. The process of the intervention was also evaluated, to provide learning for future interventions.
The evaluation consisted of:
- Baseline and follow up surveys with participants;
- Interviews with clients;
- Conversations with staff and key stakeholders.
In total, 150 baseline surveys were completed, with 73 follow-ups. Additionally, 16 clients were spoken to over the telephone, as well as four clients face-to-face.
About half (51%) of the 150 people who received advice through the project received support via a group seminar and 49% received one-to-one support through an appointment with an advisor.
- The project has not made any substantial difference to clients’ abilities to access financial information. Indeed, fewer participants said it was easy to access financial information and make decisions about financial products after the intervention than before.
- There was a very small increase in people’s confidence to deal with unexpected events.
- The project has not changed attitudes towards managing finances, as most clients had a positive attitude before receiving the advice.
- Over three quarters of clients (77%) have a better understanding of financial products as a result of the project, with this being higher amongst people who attended group sessions.
- Awareness of specific financial products has increased, with the exception of wills and funeral planning.
- The project has increased clients’ awareness of how to spot and report fraud/scams.
- 86% of clients are now more aware of what financial support is available to them.
- There has not been a change in clients’ confidence levels when using IT.
- Just over half of clients have taken some action since receiving the advice. A quarter (25%) have now set up a will, 18% have set up an LPA and 12% have switched their fuel or utility providers.
- People receiving one-to-one advice were more likely to have taken action than those receiving group advice.
- At one-to-one advice appointments, the advisor was able to provide more hands-on support; e.g. helping people set up online banking.
- The project was promoted in several ways, though the most common way of finding out about the project was through contact with Age Cymru Swansea Bay.
- One of the key successes of the project was the ability to recruit an advisor with previous experience, combined with the existing expertise in the wider organisation.
- Satisfaction with the advice given was high; 88% of clients agreed that the advisor was knowledgeable and able to answer questions, 82% felt the advice was useful and 70% felt it met their needs.
- Areas of lower satisfaction included the wait between being referred to the project and the appointment, and onwards referrals and signposting to other organisations.
- Overall, the project was successful at providing financial advice to 150 people as planned.
Points to consider
- The executive summary and report omit to say that some of the outcomes measured experienced negative change (i.e. got worse) between the pre and post surveys.
- There is no control group to compare the observed changes with (i.e. a group where there was no intervention), so attributing causality to the intervention is difficult.
- The numbers of responses collected are suitable for analysis, but they are not weighted to be representative of the general population.
- This report is relevant to all stakeholders and policymakers with an interest in evaluating financial advice and education programmes among older people.
Age Cymru Swansea Bay evaluation - full report