Evidence type: Evaluation i
Information about the programme design and rationale
Evidence about Financial Capability outcomes for programme participants
Evidence that the Financial Capability outcomes were caused by the programme
Evidence about programme implementation, feasibility, and piloting
Evidence about relative costs and benefits of the programme
[This is an extract from the Executive Summary of the evaluation report. Further amendments may be made to this Summary, pending review by the Evidence Hub partner]
Financial exclusion – the inability to access affordable and appropriate financial services – is a pressing and persistent issue for low-income households across the UK. Affected households often pay more for services and are at greater risk of over-indebtedness. Financial exclusion is particularly prevalent among women in the Criminal Justice System (CJS). Women often enter the criminal justice system through committing acquisitive crimes and are often in debt. Many women have experienced financial difficulties compounded by long-term poverty, family commitments, disrupted access to benefits, high cost credit, coercive and abusive partners and poor financial literacy.
In response to this, Salford Foundation ran an 18-month project (September 2017 – March 2019) funded by the Money Advice Service’s (MAS) ‘What Works Fund’ to improve the financial capability of vulnerable women in the CJS or at risk of offending. This involved delivering group and individual financial capability and debt advice sessions to women in ten gender-specific criminal justice centres (called Women’s Centres) in Greater Manchester. The project delivered 45 group sessions attended by 195 women and one-to-one sessions with 95 women. Included in those figures are 25 women who attended both one-to-ones and the groups.
The University of Salford evaluated 1) whether the project met its outcome targets relating to improving knowledge and skills, behaviour and motivation, and financial resilience among the women; 2) the impact of the project on women offenders or those at risk of offending; and 3) the effectiveness of the project in delivering relevant financial education at an appropriate level for the target group of women. The evaluators drew on the following methods and sources of information:
The findings from this evaluation suggest that the project improved the participants’ financial knowledge, skills and confidence in certain areas but not in others. We found limited evidence indicating behaviour change as a result of the training:
Vulnerable women in CJS or at risk of offending have multiple and complex issues (e.g. mental health issues, domestic abuse), chaotic lives, learning difficulties, are averse to engaging with services outside of the participating Women’s Centres and do not necessarily see improving money management or long-term resilience as a priority. This resulted in challenges in recruiting and retaining participants, especially for group sessions, which Salford Foundation overcame, recruiting nearly 200 women for the group sessions.
The evaluation found that the following features worked well in recruiting these women to the group sessions:
The findings suggest there are three elements that worked well in delivering financial capability group sessions to women in this target group:
This means that we cannot say if similar projects aimed at comparable target groups would produce similar outcomes. However, the process evaluation contains important lessons relevant for delivering financial capability interventions more generally.
Salford Foundation - Vik Pal