Gloucestershire: Money management for young people
Gloucestershire County Council has an award-winning, coordinated approach to developing financial capability in young people. Working with a wide range of partners, the council has created a resource entitled ‘The price of parenting'. It aims to help young people understand the real costs of becoming a parent.
Key learnings for other councils
Gloucestershire County Council emphasises the importance of collaborative partnership working in supporting financial capability. ‘The price of parenting' resource, was developed with this kind of collaboration. The council also highlights its partnership with the Personal Finance Education Group (Pfeg) and Debtcred, (now part of CreditAction), a voluntary-sector organisation which specialises in this work.
The work is also supported by the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, Ceri Evans, who attends regularly as a guest at meetings and demonstrates a keen interest. The High Sheriff has offered valued time and funding in the promotion of financial capability in Gloucestershire.
Council staff also believe that training of teachers and others in the school system has been a key factor in their success. Head teachers, governors and school improvement partners received training as well as teaching staff. Unless ‘hearts and minds' are won in support of financial capability work, it will not get space on the school curriculum.
The presence of a dedicated leading teacher who was able to devote one day a week to financial literacy work was extremely valuable. She was able to visit all the schools in the county and develop ‘that personal contact that makes a difference'.
Research has shown that there are specific connections between debt, financial difficulties and mental health. Money problems are the most frequently cited cause of depression - ‘Social Exclusion taskforce factsheet' (2008) and Fitch et al (2009).
National research gives cause for concern about young people's understanding of financial issues. For example, 26 per cent of teenagers think that overdrafts are for ‘overspending'. More than 50 per cent of England's teenagers have been in debt by the time they are 17.
Sixty-six per cent of Britons believe finance lessons would have helped them deal with today's financial challenges - Personal Finance Education Group (Pfeg) website (see ‘Useful links' below).
Who was involved?
The council leads a Financial Capability Group, working with several partners. The group is chaired by the senior commissioning manager, market management and development and meets bi-monthly.
Partners include representatives of:
- other council departments, including adult and young people's education
- Prospects - which delivers the county's Connexions Service
- other statutory agencies including JobCentre Plus
- voluntary-sector organisations, including Citizens' Advice Bureaux.
The problem and how it was tackled
Gloucestershire's online health and lifestyle survey of young people shows that money management is their second highest concern. Responding to these concerns, the council implemented a number of initiatives designed to support financial capability.
Gloucestershire's approach is to offer support in schools and other settings for young people to learn financial capability. It reviews its performance regularly.
An increasing number of young people ask for support with financial issues through Gloucestershire's common assessment frameworks. Children's centres have also recorded a need for family-focused financial capability training as a preventative measure.
The most recent Gloucestershire Needs Analysis identifies financial capability as a key issue. The Children and Young People's plan for 2009/10 included the target of offering "a comprehensive programme of financial education through the Gloucestershire Financial Capability Model".
The model itself outlines a strategic approach to financial capability education across age ranges. This includes universal support in schools and targeted support in a number of other settings. These include:
- children's centres
- JobCentre Plus
- youth offending bodies
- sheltered housing
- adult education centres and others.
The council sees financial capability as an aspect of health and wellbeing. Thus there is close involvement of the county's children's and young people's health and wellbeing team in the work.
Two local authority-wide schemes of work to integrate financial literacy work in schools into Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHEE) and Wellbeing and Citizenship.
‘The price of parenting' is an innovative resource, created with a range of partners, aimed at all young people. It gives information to help young people understand and reflect on the real costs of being a parent. The work is part of the overall objective of reducing the number of teenage parents. The resource is now being used in other local authority areas throughout the country.
The council also supports teachers and those working with young people. ‘Making money real' is a training resource for teachers working in pupil referral units. It is delivered by the Pfeg in partnership with Barclays Bank and supports the delivery of personal finance education. Comprehensive training programmes have been created and delivered for school and local authority staff.
There are also regular local authority-wide conferences and training events with a focus on economic wellbeing and financial capability. The Financial Capability Group secured funding from the Area-based Grant for a lead teacher in finance education employed one day per week. However, the third year of this funding has now been withdrawn.
‘My Money' week is celebrated annually, and promotes the delivery of financial capability nationally. It is celebrated in Gloucestershire, encouraged by various competitions highlighting financial capability for schools. The aim is for teachers and other key professionals to successfully engage children and young people in understanding money matters.
The council works with Prospects - which delivers the Gloucestershire Connexions Service. Connexions staff receive training on financial capability. In addition, information is captured about young people coming to the service with financial issues as either their primary or secondary need. This is intended to help inform future planning on financial capability targeted support for young people.
The Careers Education, Information Advice and Guidance Support programme offered by Prospects to support careers education in the curriculum now includes training on financial capability.
Outcomes and impact
An online pupil survey, focusing on health and lifestyle issues, and proxy measures, captures the impact of interventions. The proxy measures include:
- numbers of young people presenting at the Citizens Advice Bureau and Connexions for financial advice
- the number of schools receiving financial capability input of various kinds.
The most recent 2010 survey was completed by over 18,000 pupils. In it and previous surveys ‘money management' was the second-highest area identified for further support by secondary school pupils. This has been a huge catalyst in ensuring provision through the Financial Capability Group. The Gloucestershire Financial Capability Model is also used to review progress.
Copies of ‘The price of parenting' have been requested by every local authority in the southwest and the resource is being disseminated nationally. This has resulted in the programme being recognised as a Centre of Excellence in the Pfeg awards for 2010.
In the current financial situation, the council is having to reconsider its financial inclusion work, while recognising its importance. Therefore, it is not possible at the time of writing to anticipate how the work will develop.
References and useful links
Social Exclusion Taskforce factsheet (2008) - Cabinet Office
Fitch, C., Hamilton, S., Bassett, P. Dovey (2009) ‘Debt and mental health. What do we know? What should we do?' Royal College of Psychiatrists and Rethink
Personal Finance Education Group (Pfeg) - resources and useful statistics for teachers and trainers on financial capability
Jan Courtney, Joint Manager, Children's Health and Wellbeing team
Gloucestershire County Council
16 February 2015