The Improving Outcomes in Money Advice (MAO) project, which is funded by the Money Advice Service and Improvement Service, aims to improve the impact of Scotland's money advice services, offering support to local authorities and partners in this process. The project is now in its fourth phase, continuing to drive improvements across the money advice sector in Scotland.
Key project activities underway in 2018/19 include:
Achievements of the project to date include:
An evaluation of the project in 2017-18 is now available.
The MAO project is overseen by a Project Advisory Board including representatives from Scottish local authorities, Accountant in Bankruptcy, Citizens Advice Scotland, COSLA, Money Advice Scotland, Money Advice Service, NHS Scotland, ScotCash, Scottish Legal Aid Board, StepChange, and the University of Edinburgh.
The Improvement Service, together with the Scottish Government and Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB), have developed a framework to support the adoption of a common approach to the funding of advice services.
The framework sets out the key elements that funders should consider when reviewing their current funding arrangements with advice services, and when funding new projects.
This event brought together representatives responsible for the commissioning and monitoring of the local authority-funded advice services to hear about the decisions and approaches being taken across local authorities for funding advice services, and the challenges and opportunities this presents both at a local and national level.
Visit the event page for presentations and more information.
This research addresses a gap in understanding of how local authorities monitor the quality of money advice provided across the in-house and external services that they fund. It also highlights the performance reporting arrangements which are in place to monitor services’ delivery against their agreed remit and any targets. Both the implementation of, and adherence to, quality controls and regular performance monitoring constitute key elements of the Framework for Public Funding of Advice.
The Improvement Service sought to explore a typical ‘customer journey,’ in relation to the provision of money advice services, by conducting a customer analysis of the pathways taken and channels used to access money advice. The intention was to identify which steps were most likely to contribute to positive outcomes from the service user’s perspective. This was done by identifying which elements of the process were most likely to promote progression and which acted as barriers.
Arranging individual interviews with a range of service users who had accessed services using a variety of channels proved problematic and, as a result, the report primarily focuses on the customer journey experience in relation to face-to-face services.
The report’s key findings are:
A Social Return on Investment analysis carried out by the Improvement Service, in partnership with NHS Lothian, Dundee City Council and Granton Information Centre, found that every £1 invested in the co-location of advice workers in medical practices would generate around £39 in social and economic benefits. The benefits listed below – among others - were identified, measured and valued by talking directly to the people most affected:
This report takes data on council tax debt from the Improvement Service, Step Change Debt Charity Scotland and Citizens Advice Scotland to examine the relationship between accessibility and funding of advice services and levels of council tax debt. Its reports the indicative findings from the first effort at information sharing and highlights areas for further investigation.
This briefing paper focuses on the importance of accurate recording and reporting in relation to money advice services, paying particular attention to the case management systems used. It also offers recommendations for both services delivering money advice and their funders, with the aim of encouraging more accurate recording and reporting in the sector.
The Accountant in Bankruptcy and the Improvement service both report on the statistical information that each collect during the year that has relevance for debt and money advice. This short briefing paper looks at the statistical information each organisation collects and matches the data across a specific area to see if this can be used to improve understanding and enhance the evidence base.
The Improvement Service welcomed the opportunity to provide evidence for the ‘Independent Review of the Funding of Debt Advice in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland’.
Our response draws primarily from the findings from the Money Advice Performance Management Framework (MAPMF), for which the Improvement Service collates and analyses data provided by the 32 Scottish local authorities. Additional research carried out by the Improvement Service - on areas such as alternative service delivery models, referral pathways, and customer journey mapping - is also relevant to this response, and is outlined where appropriate.
The Improvement Service welcomed the opportunity to respond to the Money Advice Service’s consultation on the future approach to debt advice commissioning.
Along with other organisations, the Improvement Service has produced compelling evidence that improving financial capability and increasing levels of resilience, and the provision of debt advice are inextricably linked. As a result, most advice providers adopt a person-centred approach and seek to offer a holistic service to individuals at a time of need- which often occurs when people experience life changes either as a result of personal circumstances (e.g. unemployment) or alterations in state policies (e.g. welfare reform). From 2018, the responsibility for commissioning services that deliver advice relating to financial capability and debt will rest with different bodies, a new financial guidance body and the Scottish Government respectively. In these circumstances, it is critical that a collaborative approach is taken by public service providers which is in line with the Christie Commission’s recommendations to provide effective and efficient services.
This short briefing paper sets out the need for continued public funding to support the provision of money advice services and outlines the multiple positive outcomes they provide. It follows on from the findings reported in 'A Summary of the Impact of 2016-17 Local Authority Budget Cuts on Money Advice Services'.
Despite substantial evidence of their effective targeting, impact and value for money, money advice services have experienced significant reductions in funding in recent years, and their future viability is uncertain. Money advice services support core priorities, deliver excellent value for money, secure revenue streams and, through early intervention and reducing inequality, decrease long-term costs to the public sector.
There is evidence that, at a time of increased demand for services, a flexible approach to service delivery is being adopted by many service providers, which is based on improving outcomes for people and communities and reducing inequality.
The IS Money Advice Outcomes team carried out a review of the impact of 2016-17 local authority budget cuts on the provision of money advice services which are funded and/or delivered by local authorities. The report provides a snapshot of the position in 2016, and identifies very clearly that the position in 2017-18 is likely to be one of continued reductions in budgetary provision and that the only way to maintain services is likely to be through wide-ranging transformational changes.
The analysis found that many local authorities have adopted, or are actively considering, a more strategic approach to the delivery of advice services. This is likely to include integration of services, strengthened resource planning, increased generic working, extended partnership working and a review of the channels customers use to access services. Accepting and participating in the transformation agenda will be an integral part of the process of sustaining money advice services.
This briefing was prepared for elected members, aiming to give them better insight into financial capability and encourage a greater understanding of its importance. It is hoped that elected members will use this information to influence local government policies, provide leadership, and facilitate and negotiate solutions to the low levels of financial capability in Scotland.
Sandra Sankey, Project Manager, Improving Outcomes in Money Advice (Improvement Service)
Download the presentations:
Karen Carrick and Paige Barclay (Improvement Service)
Michael Royce and Helen Pitman (Money Advice Service)
Steve Stillwell and Rebecca Graham (Money Advice Service)
Sandra Sankey (Improvement Service)
Kate Burton (NHS Lothian)
Roddy Samson (Granton Information Centre)
Craig Mason (Dundee City Council)
Karen Carrick and Paige Barclay (Improvement Service)
Andrew McGuire (Improvement Service)
Emma Crouch (Dundee City Council)
Sandra Sankey and Kristoffer Boesen (Improvement Service)
The project team organise and take part in a variety of events, some of which are listed below. Please contact us if you would like our input at an event.
The Money Advice Outcomes Team was involved with the planning of a stakeholder event which brought together representatives across the Scottish Prison Service, Local Authority and Third Sector advice workers and managers involved with some of the Scottish Prison Advice Projects.
It provided an opportunity for stakeholders to learn from each other’s area of work and discuss some of the early interventions in place to support prisoners and their wider families, sharing the good practice and any new developments. Discussions took place around these key themes:
Download the presentations from:
Improving access to Advice Services whilst addressing domestic/financial abuse
The Money Advice Outcomes Team was involved with the planning of a stakeholder event during the 16DaysofAction against domestic violence. This took place at Big Lottery premises in Glasgow and was well attended by a diverse mix of key stakeholders.
In partnership with NHS Health Scotland and Child Poverty Action Group, the Money Advice Outcomes project team organised an event to encourage the development of effective referral pathways between the health and advice sectors, and share good practice.
The Money Advice Outcomes project team helped plan and deliver an event to bring key stakeholders across the Highland and Island communities together to share examples of good practice, and strengthen partnership-working. Taking place in Inverness, the event was attended by senior management across council, housing, health, credit union, and third sector organisations.
The Money Advice Outcomes team was involved in the planning of this event at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, which was attended by more than 250 delegates. The event was held in partnership with NHS Health Scotland, Citizens Advice Bureaux, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Legal Aid Board, and the Money Advice Service. Attendees discussed the outcomes of advice, as well as the role that advice services play in tackling inequalities on a national level.
The Improvement Service was asked to participate in a Debt Conference, which was funded and co-ordinated by Aberdeenshire Council. The main aims of the event were:
The Money Advice Outcomes team were involved with the planning of two events on Health and Financial Inclusion in 2015, held in partnership with NHS Health Scotland. The first event was held in Glasgow and was aimed at NHS, financial inclusion and advice service workers across Scotland. The second event was aimed specifically at services operating in Dundee.
This summit, hosted by Derek MacKay (Minister for Local Government and Planning), discussed concerns around the clustering and numbers of payday lenders and betting shops in Scotland. It also explored potential measures, good practice and ideas for tackling them.