The future is digital and behind the scenes, SPP has been exploring the right approach to ensure no-one who is not online gets left behind, and next year we’ll launch new online products that meet our own high standards on engagement. In November, we took part in Citizens Advice’s symposium exploring the future of financial capability on their LinkedIn group, Financial Capability and Education in the UK and won praise for making ‘user experience’ central to what we do through Quids in! magazine.
In October, the UK’s Financial Capability Strategy was published, highlighting the need for collective action and interventions when people face major life events, under which the authors rightly included moving onto Universal Credit. It called for more effective communications with consumers and a drive to promote savings to help people weather financial setbacks. The strategy is the context in which Quids in! and the engagement expertise we’ve developed exists .
In terms of collective action, we’re engaging sponsors from outside financial capability per se to help us grow our work. It’s another string social enterprise has to its bow, bringing new resources but only if existing and new routes to stakeholders, through landlords and authorities, for example, remain open to us. As we do this, the Money Advice Service (MAS) needs to decide whether it will invest in or compete against services on the ground, at least the services the FinCap Strategy describes as ‘what works’, and we count Quids in! amongst those.
In the Autumn, MAS supported SPP with a 'theory of change' session to explore our offer to the sector. It was part of the planning for our Financial Wellbeing Survey, which is now live for social tenants across the UK, to help measure our impact. We recognised Quids in! uniquely engages audiences that might not otherwise turn to debt or financial advice agencies. We nudge readers towards taking action. We’re in their homes, on their coffee tables, trusted, accessible and on their side, or as one reader put it, “having read a couple of your Help Files, I have been able to come up with an a budget… it is also good to know that we are far from alone in this situation”.
In 2015, Quids in! looked at everything from pet costs and switching to save money on bills to getting online and inevitably Universal Credit. The professional network, QIPN, in turn profiled issues ranging from the living wage and mistrust in the banking system to social prescribing, financial education in schools and digital exclusion, (look over the archive here). We brought in support from Aon and Aviva, the Change Account, Mears and Experian and our new Partnership Manager is talking to dozens more about seemingly endless possibilities in 2016.
2016 will bring its challenges but if we continue to pull closer together, it's going to be exciting. All the materials we produce are at the disposal of partners in the sector. Our consumer-facing ones may not be free but they do benefit from economies of scale and independence from formal or institutional bodies who don’t naturally engage the audience. As a not-for-profit, however, they also create resources for us to do more across the sector pro bono, and we’ll continue sharing ideas and information, especially the results of our 2016 survey, around the UK.