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An evaluation of an alternative money advice service for survivors of domestic abuse

Evidence type: Evaluation i

Description of the programme

The aim of this outcome evaluation was to examine the effectiveness of a bespoke ‘money advice service’ in achieving financial capability outcomes to support domestic abuse survivors, as provided by Anglia Care Trust (ACT). This report describes the work undertaken and the key findings of the evaluation.

The evaluation was carried out between January 2017 and March 2018 by Dr Olumide Adisa at the University of Suffolk’s Centre for Social and Economic Research. While ACT work with service users without a history of domestic abuse, this evaluation focuses on the 80% of workloads involving survivors of domestic abuse.

The study

The evaluation was undertaken with the following groups:

  • Service users
  • Money advisers and key management staff
  • The domestic abuse outreach service staff
  • Professionals from referral agencies in the domestic abuse community in Suffolk.

Data for the evaluation were collected using:

  • Pre- and post-programme self-assessment survey completed by 73 service users (developed in consultation with the evaluation team to ensure the instruments were robust in generating high-quality data)
  • 38 interviews with service users
  • 17 in-depth interviews with professionals from referral agencies
  • Two focus group discussions with staff
  • Informal conversations with two key senior management staff
  • Outcome information from ACT’s case files
  • Case studies.

Key findings

Overall, the mixed-method evidence that emerged from the evaluation included:

  • Interview data highlighting the experience of the referral process as being generally positive, with the duration of the referral process reported to have taken a couple of days to a week at most.
  • The short referral times and the positive outcomes from the case notes are indicative of the positive impact of this joined-up approach to service delivery in a domestic abuse context.
  • The average length of time that a service user received support was about four months. 19% of respondents were still receiving light-touch support from the staff after they exited the programme, through trained volunteer money mentors.
  • 90% (n=66) of service users were women. The majority of service users are on a low-income, with over 60% on benefits only. 21% had some earnings and benefits, and 5% had access to earnings. The rest had a combination of pensions and benefits.
  • The feedback received from respondents was overwhelmingly positive. Many respondents stated that their confidence and knowledge of managing money had increased. There were several comments from survivors of domestic abuse that they felt very relieved to not have to deal with debt on their own, particularly after fleeing an abusive situation. This verbal feedback (qualitative evidence) was supported by the self-assessment questionnaires completed by service users (quantitative data). In one special case, the intervention helped to save the life of a baby of a survivor of domestic abuse by ensuring there was enough funds for the survivor to take her baby to a specialist London hospital.
  • To improve the confidence of DAOS staff in completing the financial health checks with their clients, the money advisers piloted a financial capability upskilling awareness-raising session with nine DAOS staff. The evidence of the pilot programme was somewhat mixed but the feedback provided suggested that the sessions helped improve their financial knowledge and confidence and they felt better able to broach the topic of money with their clients.
  • Based on the recurring themes from the qualitative data, the key success factors were:
    • The provision of outreach and telephone contact
    • Prompt response of staff
    • Strong buy-in from partners working in the domestic abuse community
    • The knowledge and experience of staff regarding domestic abuse issues
    • Professionalism of staff
  • The evaluation states the bespoke service works due to:
    • A simple referral system
    • Speedy assessments
    • Personalised contact with a money adviser
    • Clarity of outcomes and how to achieve them
    • A joined-up approach to working with referral agencies.

This report presents evidence on how a bespoke ‘money advice service’ is tackling the financial dimensions of abuse. The project offers an alternative service delivery model that jointly works with domestic abuse professionals to enhance financial capability among domestic abuse survivors, as well as influencing good practice through upskilling and awareness-raising activities for professionals.

Points to consider

  • Methodological limitations: There is (naturally) no control group to benchmark the observed changes against (i.e. a group where there was no intervention).
  • Generalisability/ transferability: The response rate of participants to the interviews was limited by the sensitive nature of the research area. The small numbers involved mean caution must be exercised when considering the quantitative results.
  • Relevance: This report is relevant to all authorities, stakeholders and policymakers with an interest in evaluating bespoke financial education programmes and increasing financial capability among vulnerable groups.

Key info

Measured outcomes
Programme delivered by
Anglia Care Trust (ACT)
Year of publication
Contact information

Anglia Care Trust, University of Suffolk - [email protected]