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An evaluation of Cash Smart Credit Savvy

Evidence type: Evaluation i

Description of the programme

The Cash Smart Credit Savvy (CSCS) programme offers an introduction to budgeting skills and financial capability as an early financial intervention. It was devised to be a short and accessible course. Originally developed by Trent Vineyard Church and Transforming Notts Together and now delivered by Just Finance Foundation (JFF), CSCS has been scaled up using funding from the Money Advice Service’s What Works Fund to cover five pilot areas: Liverpool, Newcastle, Stoke on Trent and the Black Country, Canterbury and Plymouth.

The programme aims to improve financial wellbeing by increasing people’s confidence in talking and making informed choices about money, through promoting a stronger savings culture and by encouraging people to share learning from the course with others. CSCS is delivered to two key audiences, Train the Trainers (training future course leaders) and general course participants (open to all working age adults who want to improve their financial capability). The course encourages participants to share the knowledge and skills they attain. The course covers five main topic areas including money management, budgeting, credit and loans, debt and savings.

The study

The evaluation was carried out between January 2017 and February 2018 by the Centre for Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University. The evaluation addresses key research questions including the approach taken to improve the financial capability of working age adults through short term community based training, the applicability of course-learning in daily life, the extent to which new learning is shared with family and friends, and growth in confidence and skills in budgeting and saving. A Theory of Change model is presented at the beginning of the report.

Data was collected during telephone interviews with participants and a focus group with JFF (Just Finance Foundation) and CUF (Church Urban Fund) Network Partners. Pre and post-course surveys with aspiring trainers and general participants were conducted, with 295 pre-course and 265 post-course surveys completed. Online surveys and course observation were also used.

Key findings

  • Participants in the study reported greater confidence and increased ability to manage money and control spending after attending CSCS groups.
  • On completion most participants intended to do more to keep track of their finances by using money saving tips and a spending diary, shopping around for groceries and avoiding non-essential spending.
  • Participants reported a higher level of knowledge and ability in undertaking various financial capability tasks such as working out the cost of a loan or credit purchase once they had completed the course.
  • A statistically significant increase in participants who plan how they spend their money and who save money most months since taking part in the course suggests CSCS played a role in helping participants to build a savings buffer.
  • After the course participants felt more able to give guidance to others regarding their finances. At follow-ups four weeks after the course, 72% of participants had shared some of what they had learned about managing money, with the vast majority (95%) feeling confident doing so.

Points to consider

Methodological limitations:

  • The scale and nature of the project and the relatively small sample sizes involved means that it was not feasible to include a comparison group or so called counterfactual in the evaluation.
  • The follow-up time period for the evaluation is also limited due to the project timeframe; medium and longer term outcomes may not become apparent within the 4-6 week follow-up period.
  • CSCS is a short duration intervention that may have made it less likely that people would participate in follow-up research. Less data was gathered post-course than had been hoped. As such, it is harder to assess the extent to which CSCS achieved its medium to longer-term outcomes as outlined in the project’s Theory of Change.


  • Overall, the course appears to have achieved and sustained the desired outcomes as outlined above, but follow-up results should be treated with a degree of caution; there are limitations in terms of the length of the follow-up period and sample size and ultimately, the evidence base is relatively small.

Generalisability / transferability:

  • CSCS is a relatively small project and this is a small-scale evaluation. Due to the small number of participants spread across five pilot areas sample sizes in each area would are too small to support robust statistical analysis with a comparison group.

Full report

An evaluation of Cash Smart Credit Savvy - full report

Key info

Client group
Activities and setting
An introductory budgeting and financial capability programme, delivered by JFF to working age individuals and Train the Trainers in community settings. Mixed method process & impact evaluation.
Programme delivered by
Delivered by Just Finance Foundation (JFF), formerly by CUF before the charity was independently registered.
Year of publication
Contact information

Just Finance Foundation (JFF)https://www.cuf.org.uk/just-financeSheffield Hallam [email protected]