“Really user friendly” and “very useful”: Impact of the Money Advice Referral Tool (MART)

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By Daniel Oliver, Head of Programmes at Greater Manchester Poverty Action (GMPA)

GMPA’s money maximising tool has proven to be a success across Greater Manchester. 

GMPA established the MART in Greater Manchester over 18 months ago. The tool provides a framework for a conversation to support someone at risk of falling into poverty, with a concise summary of options available to get them to the most appropriate form of preventative support.

There are now MARTs in six of ten Greater Manchester boroughs: Bury, Oldham, Manchester, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan. An independent evaluation of these has now been completed by ICF, finding that the tools have made it easier for organisations to support people to access money maximising information:

“It’s massively saved me time…I used Google to search. When I saw [the MART], I knew it would save me all that searching” – MART user.

The evaluation also highlighted the positive role of the collaborative approach we adopted to create the MARTs, bringing together working groups of relevant organisations and people with lived experience of poverty:

“It was good having the service users there. When you’re co-designing something you need that input, so professionals don’t run away and do something that they just assume is going to work” – working group member.

This process of listening and co-production seems to have paid off, with over 250 workers and volunteers across 225 Greater Manchester organisations being identified as using the MARTs to support people, and more than 30% of these being staff within schools and the NHS.

The evaluation found that use of the MARTs varied between organisations, for example between school pastoral staff and foodbank volunteers, and a Wigan organisation shared the MARTs directly with people in the community:

There was quite a take up, particularly from men, who independently accessed some of the support services relating to mental health, debt and substances” – MART user.

Examples of MART use included: a family being supported to save money on their energy bills through a referral to the Energyworks service; a family accessing legal advice via the MART; and a family being supported to access Universal Credit, Child Benefit and an additional one-off grant, significantly increasing their household income.

GMPA is now reviewing and implementing the learnings and recommendations from the independent evaluation, in partnership with other organisations. These include improving the ways of working of the borough-level MART working groups, providing a more extensive MART training offer, developing an online system to enable automatic MART referrals and developing MARTs in other languages to increase accessibility.

The MART has been funded by the Trussell Trust and Oldham Council and seeks to maximise household incomes. GMPA would like to thank them for their support, as well as members of the MART working groups and those who participated in the ICF evaluation.

To find out more about the MARTs, please contact Jon Sands at jons@gmpovertyaction.org.

“It sounded like a really good idea to have all the information in one place so that we can refer people on to whatever help they might need -feeding people is only one part of that. Usually there are underlying things [which explain] why they’re presenting as needing food, and so it felt like a really good thing we could use to work alongside what we were already doing” – MART user

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i3oz9s“Really user friendly” and “very useful”: Impact of the Money Advice Referral Tool (MART)