Description of the programme
A2Dominion has run the DOSH (Debts, Overdrafts and Savings Help) programme in Ealing since 2013. Through the Money Advice Service’s, (MAS), What Works Fund, (WWF), the programme was expanded to Oxford and Spelthorne. DOSH activities include one-to-one bespoke therapeutic mentoring to help individuals manage their finances. This was combined with a new financial capability application called Ask David, through the WWF.
The programme targeted people who are struggling to manage their money and sought to increase their confidence and ability to manage and take control of their finances. Ultimately DOSH aimed to assess and improve wellbeing, resilience and financial management skills, drawing on support from local voluntary and community sector organisations. Almost 900 people were involved in the programme during the WWF phase.
The evaluation of the WWF DOSH programme aimed to answer the following research question:
Is digital support, therapeutic mentoring, or a combination of these elements more effective in improving the financial capability of A2Dominion residents?
The research included three elements:
Outcome evaluation consisting of a pre/post matched survey of project participants (n=34) and a control group (n=24), and matched pre/post qualitative interviews with participants (n=12), carried out from August 2017 to March 2018.
Process evaluation focusing on the delivery and success of the programme. This aspect of the evaluation was carried out throughout the WWF period.
Economic evaluation measuring the social return on investment (SROI) of the programme, using the Housing Association Charitable Trust’s (HACT) social impact measurement tool.
- Therapeutic mentoring was crucial in improving the financial capability of DOSH participants. A few people found the support inconsistent in the later stage of the programme, but most were satisfied with the personalised therapeutic mentoring.
- The Ask David financial app was rolled out while the evaluation was being undertaken and had limited use. Qualitative data suggested it could be used alongside other interventions.
- DOSH participants improved their financial capability, particularly around paying bills and credit commitments on time; and reported increased confidence in budgeting and financial management. Participants also reported greater financial knowledge and increased wellbeing following the intervention. People taking part also learnt about new services, increased their awareness of available benefits and changes. They also received one-to-one support with CV writing, job searches and training.
- The main reasons participants gave for joining the DOSH programmes were to improve their financial situation and to ‘get back on track’ with their lives.
- A numbers of engagement routes were identified for the programme: 169 participants were referred internally via Tenancy Support Officers; 125 were referred through Advice Plus; 375 were engaged through Brief Interventions and 131 completed a mentoring programme. Additionally, the Ask David app recorded 1,419 hits, 174 active users and 80 live conversations.
- DOSH’s economic evaluation used HACT’s Social Value Tool and Wellbeing Valuation approach. It revealed that for every £1 spent, the estimated social value of the outcomes generated was £35.The programme cost £276,500 and the SROI was £2,281,000.
Points to consider
- The outcome evaluation survey sample size was quite small, owing to drop-off between the pre- and post- questionnaire (75% in the intervention group and 52% in the control group). Drop-off was larger than expected, and attributed to the high level of needs of the client group, contact telephone numbers changing, and participants not completing the programme.
- The surveys and qualitative interviews included only one respondent aged 16-24, and therefore results are not reflective of the experiences of this age group.
- The delayed roll-out of the Ask David financial app reduced the time available for mentors to encourage DOSH participants to use it. This affected the end of intervention survey, as questions about the app were less relevant.
- The findings could be used by other housing associations to inform the development of provision. However the small sample sizes mean caution should be used in interpreting the results.