Money money money…

Over the past 12 months we have recorded an increase amongst our service users, homeless tenants of unsupported temporary accommodation, in Manchester. New issues, such as increased levels of benefit sanctioning are worrying our service users, alongside a host of other problems including: historical debts, payday loans, owing money to loan sharks and inability to budget or financially plan.

As the DWP reforms, there is increased pressure for everyone in receipt of benefits to have a bank account in order to receive benefit payments. You might think everyone already has one so what is all the fuss about! Well, 11% of the poorest in our country do not have a bank account or only have a post office account. Many of these people are our service users. With no fixed address and frequently no ID, it is near-on-impossible for many of the people we work with to set up a bank account. Wanting to face these challenges head on, we contacted the One Manchester, Mind Your Money team.

In February 2016 the Mind Your Money team from One Manchester delivered excellent training to Justlife staff. This training equipped staff with knowledge around debt, ways to maximise income, budgeting tips and information about services in Manchester offering money management support. Justlife ran a money management themed month in our drop-in sessions to get people talking about money issues and budgeting.

These discussions raised an increased level of concern, so we invited the Mind Your Money team back to help us address this need with the best advice possible. Vicky, the Mind Your Money Project Coordinator has spent the past 4 weeks working with the team at Justlife delivering interventions that have made a real difference to those facing financial issues. The mini financial project has helped: 3 people set up Engage Accounts with Manchester Credit Union, 4 people learn to budget and complete spending diaries, 1 person be referred to Beacon Counselling Trust for support with gambling addiction, 1 person receive in-depth debt advice and others signposted to Openshaw Job Centre for appointment with David Burdiss from Mind Your Money to open Engage Account.

In just a few weeks, we have seen the beginnings of big financial change for some of our most financially struggling service users. With this successful mini-project under our belts, Justlife is currently seeking funding and expertise to deliver further financial interventions with our service users… watch this space!