Description of the programme:
The Maternity Matters programme focused on providing financial capability advice to women who had been identified as having special needs in pregnancy (SNIP). The aims of the project were to see if the established Money Matters programme could work for this group:
- By engaging mothers with special needs in pregnancy to access and act upon money advice provided, following referrals by health intermediaries and midwives in antenatal units.
- By showing improved financial capability among a target group by offering an enhanced Money Matters service (as compared to the normal service).
Money Matters used their long-established relationship with NHS Glasgow and Clyde to target vulnerable SNIP women with financial capability interventions. The particular needs of the women included:
- Medical issues, such as HIV or mental health problems;
- Age, such as being under 16, a care leaver or being in the youth criminal justice system;
- Alcohol or substance misuse;
- The expectant mother or their partner being in the mainstream criminal justice system;
- Where there were child protection concerns.
The women were approached by a member of Money Matters staff when they attended clinics at one of two hospitals in Glasgow. The pilot project aimed to have 210 referrals to the service. By the end of 2018 160 women had completed the programme, including the exit questionnaire. This comprised of 80 women on the standard Money Matters programme, and 80 women who were on the enhanced programme, which meant they had an advocate to try and help them follow through on the financial practices they had learnt.
Money Matters commissioned SQW to evaluate their Maternity Matters programme. The evaluation had two components – a process evaluation and an impact evaluation. The process evaluation focused on issues surrounding referral handling, looking at trends in referral data over time, as well as a series of consultations with clients, midwives and counsellors.
The impact evaluation used a before and after questionnaire, of those allocated randomly to both the standard and the enhanced programme. The questionnaires contained 31 questions from the Fincap Adult Outcomes Framework to measure financial capability, along with further questions that were added by the evaluators. Response rates varied slightly but were generally in the low-60s in both the pre- and post-survey.
- More than three-in-five of the referrals (62%) resulted in the client booking an appoint with the Maternity Matters programme.
- Most of the beneficiaries (84%) were aged between 16-35. Just under two-thirds of the service users were single and a third were either married or cohabiting. Six-in-seven (84%) were from very low-income households (less than £10,000).
- During the pilot period 1,379 separate pieces of advice were given to women across the enhanced and standard service groups. All women received energy advice and money guidance, 42% received housing advice and 20% received debt advice.
- The interviews showed that the women felt their initial contact with Money Matters was very positive and that staff were friendly and approachable. They felt the support was tailored to their needs and was wide-ranging in its scope.
- The interviews showed that women felt they were better off after using the service, and able to make their money go further, and all of the interviewees said they would recommend the service to a friend.
- Women using the enhanced service received higher financial gains than the women on the standard service, though both groups reported gains. These included new and/or additional welfare benefits, charitable grants and payments, child benefit, free meals, maternity allowance and child tax credits.
- Beyond these immediate gains, engagement with the service may realise long-term societal gains, for example from stopping women becoming homeless.
- There was a significant improvement in financial capability scores after the intervention. Scores post-intervention were an average of 23 points higher than before.
- There were statistically significant improvements in satisfaction with standard of living, in budgeting and in never running out of money, with women 62% less likely to run out of money post intervention.
- There was no significant difference in the likelihood of having debt pre- and post-intervention, or in the number of insurance products held.
- Contact with a social worker increased over the duration of the pilot for women receiving the advocacy service but decreased for women on the standard service.
- More women had accessed a food bank post-intervention than before.
Points to consider:
Methodological limitations :
- This evaluation uses a range of robust data collection and analysis methods as well as a quasi-control group.
Generalisability/ transferability :
- The evaluation is of significant interest to people concerned with enabling or evaluating financial capability interventions, and particularly to those targeting vulnerable groups.
- These findings are based on participants in Scotland and are not necessarily representative of the entire UK.