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The CashWise programme

Evidence type: Evaluation i

Description of the programme

East London Business Alliance (ELBA) is a social mobility and regeneration charity. Their CashWise programme was funded by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), and aimed to provide access to financial capability workshops in the workplace or during working hours. A total of 12 employers participated in the programme. The main aim of the programme was to improve financial capability among low-income employees, leading to improved financial health, resilience and confidence. ELBA created eight one-hour workshops, organised over three modules that matched the intended outcomes. All workshops were delivered as group sessions, with further information being offered through online resources. The workshop topics included planning for life events, managing money well day-to-day, debt and credit use, and financial advice. ELBA defined full participation as having attended a minimum of three of the eight workshops.

The study

This 2019 evaluation from ELBA incorporates both outcome and process elements. The key research aim was:

  • To what extent does the introduction of workplace financial education improve the financial capability outcomes for new and existing employees, including apprentices?

The outcomes of the project were evaluated using a pre- and post-survey design, complemented by in-depth interviews. The evaluation methodology comprised of:

  • Questionnaires with survey questions taken from the MaPS financial capability framework, with 187 completed at baseline.
  • Follow-up questionnaires administered at the end of the intervention, and completed by 100 participants.
  • Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with 11 participants, four employers and six of the trainers during the follow-up period.

For the process evaluation, feedback forms were collected at the end of each workshop, with participants asked to reflect on the content, design and delivery. The CashWise project manager, as well as project stakeholders including MaPS, were invited to observe some of the workshops.

Key Findings

Outcome evaluation

  • The findings suggested that the introduction of workplace financial education improved the financial capability outcomes for both new and existing employees, including apprentices.
    • For example, only 38% of participants reported drawing up a budget before the intervention, compared to 62% afterwards (though note results are not tested for statistical significance).
    • However, the authors do note that long-term change was not measured by this evaluation, and a longer evaluation period is need for this.
  • Half of all participants (50%) reported being able to save money more regularly, leading to increased financial resilience and improved behaviours concerning debt reduction.
  • When asked to reflect on their financial confidence at the follow-up, 83% of those who completed the programme reported a perceived increase in their financial confidence compared to before the intervention.
  • There was a 13% increase in the number of participants who described their financial situation as ‘getting by all right’ or ‘living comfortably’ following the intervention.
  • At follow-up there was a small increase in the number of people who reported taking positive action in addressing their debts.
  • Knowledge about a range of financial products, financial fraud and loan types and credit had increased (though it is not known if these changes are statistically significant.
  • The interviews suggested that a material improvement in an individual’s financial situation does not automatically lead to a decrease in worrying about the situation.

Process evaluation

  • Almost all participants (98%) stated that the goals of workshops were made clear in advance and had been successfully achieved by the end of the session.
  • Materials were translated for non-English speakers, and interpreters were used in the relevant sessions.
  • Of the 11 participants interviewed at the follow-up, ten stated that they had particularly appreciated the face-to-face delivery format of the workshops.
  • Groups incorporating people of mixed levels of seniority from within their firm did not work so well, as participants felt they could be judged by those in different circumstances and salary levels.

Points to consider

  • Methodological strengths/weaknesses: The lack of survey data from a control group makes it difficult to state with certainty if the observable changes are due to the intervention.
    • There was a relatively small number of participants who completed the post-intervention survey, which the authors give as a reason for not testing for statistical significance.
    • Long-term change resulting from the intervention is not measured by this evaluation.
    • However, a methodological strength of this evaluation is that ELBA is working to design a longitudinal impact evaluation strategy, which will capture both the intermediate and long-term outcomes of the introduction of financial education in the workplace for low-income employees.
  • Generalisability/ transferability: The evaluation is of significant interest to those looking to evaluate workplace financial capability interventions among low-income employees.
  • Relevance: The intervention took place in East London, so findings do not necessarily represent the rest of the UK.

Key info

Client group
Activities and setting
Face-to-face group workshops.
Programme delivered by
East London Business Alliance (ELBA)
Year of publication
Contact information

Carmen Nicoara