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Social housing landlords help tenants with financial skills training

Press release issued: 20 September 2012

Citizens Advice today launches the results of a unique survey of 150 social housing tenants, funded by Santander, which shows how the tenants could be £10 per week better off as a result of one-to-one financial skills training by their landlords.

‘Quids in: The impact of financial skills training for social housing tenants’ is the result of an in-depth financial skills training research project, carried out in partnership with the Personal Finance Research Centre at the University of Bristol and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CiH). Orbit Heart of England (OHE) social housing tenants from Rugby and Stratford volunteered for the free financial skills training sessions delivered between June 2011 and March 2012 by Bedworth, Rugby and Nuneaton CAB (BRANCAB).

Participants in the training, which took part over a nine month period, comprised 70 per cent women. 38 per cent were aged 25-45 and 39 per cent were 45 or over. Sixty-six per cent lived in households where there was no earned income, while 52 per cent lived in households with an income of less than £200 per week.

As well as 71 per cent of tenant learners reporting higher financial confidence as a result of the training (compared to just 13 per cent of a comparison group), other positive changes reported by the majority of tenant learners included:

• 78 per cent had changed how they manage their money since the training, compared with only 36 per cent of the comparison group

• Tenant learners who changed their saving behaviour saved, on average, an extra £11 per week

• 13 per cent had either opened or switched bank account, or opened a credit union account, compared with three per cent of the comparison group

• 18 per cent planned to open a credit union account, while none of the comparison group had any such plans.

Before-and-after surveys showed that tenants who took part, compared with a group of Orbit Heart of England social housing tenants who lived in areas where the training wasn’t offered, were more likely to improve their financial skills, gain financial confidence and access appropriate financial products.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive at Citizens Advice, said: “We hope that these results, and the best practice that came out of the project delivery, will encourage housing providers to work together in partnership with the Citizens Advice service nationally and locally. This will be particularly beneficial to tenants at a time when tenant finances are coming under increasing pressure with welfare reforms and the economic downturn.”

Jaime Graham, director at Santander, said: “We are a longstanding supporter of Citizens Advice financial capability work and this important piece of research demonstrates the positive impact and benefits that financial education can deliver.  Not only is access to guidance and advice in this area especially important in the current economic climate, it will also help people to manage their finances in the future.  We believe that the government, financial services sector and financial education charities need to work together to ensure that everyone, and in particular people living on low incomes, can access the financial services and products that they need, as well as information to help them understand the basics of money management.“

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