Description of the programme
The project tested a money guidance service focused on helping working-age people manage life events. The service was delivered across Wales in local communities (outside the workplace), reaching more than 1,800 clients between May-December 2017. One-to-one money guidance support was provided for individuals experiencing a change in their circumstances owing to ill health, employment status, or a relationship breakdown. The intervention was offered in two-parts, over the course of a month. The support was primarily provided face-to-face, but follow-up telephone support was also available.
The overarching research question was to test whether delivering life-event tailored financial capability support to clients affected by a particular change in their health, relationship, or employment status improved financial capability. The research also sought to identify ‘what works’ when testing and delivering the intervention at scale.
The outcomes and process evaluation was conducted by the Citizens Advice in-house impact and evaluation team. Baseline and follow-up research was conducted with both participants and a comparison group of Citizens Advice clients who did not receive the intervention. From the treatment group 1,336 baseline and 664 follow ups surveys were completed, while the comparison group contributed 3,273 baseline and 165 follow up surveys.
- Configuring the service to be life-focused required on-going work with referral partners to ensure appropriate referrals.
- The ability of staff to demonstrate empathy and listening skills emerged as important delivery components. Ensuring staff have relevant information and subject knowledge was also essential.
- Not all clients required two sessions. Flexibility within the delivery model could be enhanced, to enable clients to decide how many sessions they need. The referral criteria could also be extended to include a broader range of life events to widen take-up.
- Money Talks was more effective at improving people’s financial capability than the comparator (face to face advice), and changes in clients’ financial capability scores were statistically significant. This was the case across all financial capability measures.
- Most Money Talks clients reported a positive change in their financial capability. When changes in financial capability scores across all measures were aggregated for each client, 74% demonstrated a net positive change in their financial capability.
- Average financial capability scores increased significantly in every financial capability area amongst the Money Talks group. The greatest increases were staying informed about money services and confidence. These areas were identified as key areas of need for clients from the baseline survey results.
- A significant change was also observed in Money Talks clients’ wellbeing. Average wellbeing scores increased from 4.6 to 5.9 on the ONS personal wellbeing scale. These changes were also significantly greater than changes observed for the comparison group.
- Money Talks reached its intended audience, with 98% of clients experiencing at least one of the three life events identified for the research.
Points to consider
- Using a quasi-experimental method as an alternative to a full randomised control trial (RCT) enabled the evaluation to deliver meaningful results.
- A short timeframe was available to pilot and evaluate the service. The service took time to become established, limiting the volume of client data available for analysis. This limits the findings that can be drawn from the data. Wherever possible, statistical analysis was undertaken to confirm the validity of the findings. Citizens Advice are keen to carry out further follow-up research with clients to investigate whether their outcomes were sustainable in the longer term.