A new scheme funded by a £30 million cash injection from the National Lottery has been created in order to help prevent a spiral of debt for those who are already financially excluded.
The new Improving Financial Confidence Initiative is designed to help those already in social housing and will not only provide financial education, but also help individuals access financial services that are currently out of reach.
The scheme will initially work with the 69 local authority regions in the UK with the greatest proportion of residents who are financially excluded, primarily focussing on those already living in a form of social housing.
The programme is being administered by the Big Lottery Fund – the arm of the National Lottery responsible for handing out money to worthy causes – but voluntary groups and social housing schemes will also work in partnership with the project.
Grants will be awarded of between £500,000 and £1 million for projects lasting three to five years, with the ultimate aim of helping those who have already experienced financial hardship manage their money better and improve their future fiscal prospects.
Whilst there are undoubtedly many candidates that would be eligible to help, the programme will initially work with individuals who are in their first year of social housing tenancy, are young or unable to secure employment on a long term basis.
The chairman of the Big Lottery Fund, Sanjay Dighe, explained the reason for the creation of the project, saying that the inability for some to access financial essentials which much of society takes for granted, such as bank accounts, insurance or affordable products such as mainstream loans or credit cards, meant that a ‘debt spiral’ was created, with high cost alternatives such as doorstep lenders or loan sharks the only available options.