A new CfRC report calls for an expansion of debt advice and financial support services for low paid workers and private tenants. The research (‘Improving the Financial Health of Low Income Groups’), which was supported by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, reviewed how low income households are currently being supported to manage their money, save for the future, and deal with financial problems. It found that:
- Most current provision is targeted to the needs of social housing tenants and the unemployed. However, widespread low pay, the growing use of casual employment contracts, and rapidly rising private rents – particularly in London and the South East – are making it very difficult for many households who are in work and/or renting privately to manage financially. More provision needs to be funded for these groups;
- New partnerships are needed which bring employers, larger private landlords and advice services together to deliver financial support to low paid workers and tenants. These partnerships need to offer both ‘crisis help’ for people in debt problems and also help them to plan for the future and build up savings;
- Better financial products are also needed. There is a lack of affordable and appropriate financial services for low income households, which forces many to use very high cost credit when they experience cash flow problems. This can then make their financial position much worse. Financial services providers need to work with employers and advice and support services to design new products that help people manage their incomes.
Launching the report, CfRC Director, Damon Gibbons, said: “Low pay and the expansion of precarious employment, combined with rising living costs, is making life a real struggle for many households. More financial guidance for low paid workers and private tenants is urgently needed. We are today calling on Government to work with employers, larger private landlords and financial support services to provide workers and tenants with the help they need at an early stage. Financial services providers also have a role to play. Too many credit products on the market penalise people by levying excessive late payment fees. We need banks and alternative financial services providers to work with low paid households to design products that reflect the realities of their lives and which are helpful to them.”
Colin Kinloch, Debt Advice Strategy Manager for the Money Advice Service said “Money Advice Service research confirms that tenants and those with incomes under £10,000 are some of the groups most likely to be over-indebted. We know from evaluation of our funded debt advice projects that after getting advice people go on to reduce or clear at least some of their debts within three to six months. High quality, free debt advice is available face-to-face, over the phone and online across the country and can be found through our debt advice locator tool.
“We encourage employers and large private landlords to publicise this as widely as possible, while being mindful that many people may not realise they are in debt until it becomes a crisis. This means being sensitive and emphasising that advice is non-judgemental is important. We are always happy to provide support to organisations who want to refer those they work with to debt advice.”
To download the full report click here.