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The CashWise programme

Evidence type: Evaluation i

Description 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]

CashWise was a financial education programme which provided access to financial capability (fincap) workshops in the workplace / during working hours to 187 low-income employees. Of these, 100 completed the programme. The ultimate aim of the programme was to improve financial capability amongst low-income employees, leading to more informed decisions about financial challenges, and to improved financial health. The environment in which the CashWise programme operates is the growth of the Workplace Health and Wellbeing Agenda, which has risen sharply up the public policy agenda over the past decade. This has been accompanied by growing recognition of the positive link between employee wellbeing and long-term organisational health.

The employers of the low-income staff supported were drawn from ELBA’s membership base. In total 12 employers participated in the programme. These included a FTSE 100 property development and management company, a £45m+ cleaning business employing over 2,200 people, a leading global provider of facility services employing over 490,000 people, a hospitality caterer with a turnover of £300m operating in over 700 locations across the UK and a major construction and engineering company. Beneficiaries (e.g. cleaners, security staff and catering teams) were drawn from employer client sites including some of London’s most iconic and notable brands such as large investment banks, multinational professional services/auditors and a market leading global technology company that specialises in internet-related services and products.

The study

The project evaluation assessed the key research question of ‘to what extent does the introduction of workplace financial education improve the financial capability outcomes for new and existing employees, including apprentices?’. The outcomes measured include:

  • Ability to review and improve understanding of financial products
  • Ability to create spending budget
  • Attitudes towards money advice, savings and financial goals
  • Financial confidence
  • Financial resilience
  • Satisfaction with finances, living standards and mental wellbeing
  • Feeling better equipped to live within means
  • Debt reduction behaviour

ELBA designed both an outcome and process evaluation. The outcome evaluation focused on the outcomes of the project using a pre/post design. The evaluation methodology comprised of: a range of survey questions from the MAS Financial Capability Framework, with 187 completed baseline questionnaires and 100 at follow-up[1]; qualitative telephone interviews with a sample of 11 participants, four employers, and six trainers at follow up. For process evaluation, data was gathered primarily through feedback forms at the end of each workshop.

Key findings

Overall, the key findings suggest that the introduction of workplace financial education improved the financial capability outcomes for new and existing employees, including apprentices. Given the length of the pilot there are limitations. The improvements recorded have the potential to lead to longer-term, more informed decisions about financial challenges and improved financial health. However, to capture this ultimate outcome, a longitudinal impact evaluation is required.

At follow-up, participants’ knowledge about a range of financial products, including pensions, investments, financial fraud, or different types of loans and credit, increased. Improvements were reported in behaviours concerning debt reduction and overall financial resilience, with 50% of participants managing to save money more regularly. Six in 10 participants reported that, had they not been given the opportunity to take part in programme, it would have been unlikely for them to achieve the same changes in their financial confidence, over a similar period of time.

There was a 13% (n=13) increase in the number of participants who described their financial situation as ‘getting by alright’ or ‘living comfortably’, with fewer participants experiencing stress/anxiety or low mood/depression because of their household’s financial situation. However, there was also a small increase in the number of participants who started experiencing difficulty concentrating or relaxing (2%, n=2), difficulty sleeping (3%, n=3), or difficulty eating (2%, n=2), which stem from worry. Both qualitative and quantitative data suggest that the increase in one’s financial ability, or the improvement of one’s financial situation, does not necessarily lead to a decrease in the level of worrying about one’s own financial situation. This could be explained by previously suppressed problems being brought to the fore.

Points to consider

The original outcome evaluation methodology included the use of a control group. However, recruiting participants for a control group became a very difficult task, which was not supported by employers. To capture the causal link between the programme and the observed changes (albeit to a limited extent), a self-reflecting question asked participants to reflect on whether they would have achieved the same changes in their financial confidence, had they not attended the programme.

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