Boosting household income with Money Matters
By Daniel Oliver, Head of Programmes
Hundreds of millions of pounds worth of benefits are going unclaimed in Greater Manchester each year. To address this, service providers must maximise every opportunity they have to provide benefits information and advice to ensure people are claiming all of the money they are entitled to. At the same time, we must protect people from problem debt.
Money Matters is a GMPA programme delivering free debt and benefit advice to families via schools in Trafford. The work is delivered by our Financial Inclusion Officer, Elaine Riozzi, in partnership with Citizens Advice and funded by Kellogg’s.
We launched Money Matters earlier this year, with drop-ins and support available in three schools – Seymour Community Primary School, Lostock High School and Trafford College. Over the summer we also reached out to families via school holiday activities and at the pop-up school uniform shop in Stretford Mall.
Telephone support has been the preference for families, with over 60% of advice provided over the phone. This has been supported by face-to-face appointments for those who preferred to meet with Elaine in-person. Common issues have included Council Tax arrears, fuel debts and rent arrears.
We are delighted that the GMPA programme has so far resulted in excess of £25,000 in financial gains for Trafford families.
These gains have included support with accessing benefits, including carers elements of Universal Credit, as well as help with utility debts and school uniform grants. Within each of these are the stories of people living in poverty and taking steps to get through the cost-of-living crisis, including:
- A grandparent taking on more caring responsibilities for their grandchildren, to help save the family money with childcare costs.
- A family moving into their grandparents’ home as they could not afford housing and utility costs.
- A single parent who said they could not afford the gas and electric to cook with, even if they received a food voucher to get supplies in.
In October we ran a joint media campaign with Kellogg’s to raise awareness of this work, which including our CEO Graham Whitham speaking on Sky News. You can see these media updates here. The media work was also supported by YouGov polling that was commissioned by Kellogg’s, with key findings including:
- 1 in 7 parents (15%) reported that their children also worry about money because of family’s financial circumstances.
- 66% of parents on low incomes admitted that accessing the benefits they are entitled to is complicated.
- 53% are not confident that they are aware of all the benefits available to them.
- 41% said they would find it helpful to speak to an advisor at their children’s school about the different kind of benefits available to them.
We are now working with a number of additional schools in Trafford and Manchester so that we can extend the reach of the programme.
If you would like to know more about Money Matters then please contact our Head of Programmes, Daniel Oliver.