Hampshire County Council sees financial capability as an aspect of wellbeing for older people, who often say "money matters" are among their top concerns.
Hampshire is working in partnership to provide information and guidance for older people not intensively using services.
Key learnings for other councils
The countywide partnership approach is thought to be one of the key success factors. It has enabled existing activities to be built on and new partnerships to be developed. It also provides a framework for evaluating work and sharing it throughout the county. Having action plans in each district council area has enabled more focused work at a local level.
Concerns about money are a particular issue for older people. Many live on low incomes - more than 1.2 million relying on state benefits and pensions alone. Traditional ways of dealing with money (post offices and high street banks) are changing rapidly. Retirement and older age present new financial issues.
Help the Aged (now AgeUK)'s research shows that older people who are disabled, socially isolated, not internet users, and worried about safety and security are most likely to be financially excluded. (Help the Aged, 2007).
Many who rely on cash find access to it increasingly difficult (AgeUK, 2010). Older people need support in developing the skills to respond to society's changing relationship with money.
In 2007 21 per cent of Hampshire's population was over 60 years of age. This is set to rise to 27 per cent by 2026.
Who is involved?
The strategy is taken forward by the Joint Older People's Wellbeing Steering Group. This has membership from county council departments, district councils, the voluntary sector and other organisations including the Pensions Service.
At a local level there are plans for each district and borough council area, developed in response to local circumstances.
The problem and how it was tackled
The county's Older People's Wellbeing strategy focuses on the 84 per cent of people aged 65 and over who are not intensively using health and social care services.
The county council's Older People's Wellbeing team supports a number of initiatives with a range of partners. They aim to assist older people to maximise their income and manage it as effectively as possible.
For those older people receiving direct payments, two organisations have been commissioned to provide a range of support services. They are to assist older people to manage the financial side of the direct payments system.
The Older People's Wellbeing team is aware of the importance of accessible financial support in a highly rural county where many older people are ‘asset rich but cash poor'.
Its approach has been to facilitate and support a network of sources of help for older people to meet their identified concerns, including financial matters.
Older people have said that they wanted general information "available in lots of different places and formats and at different levels."
Alex Burn, Head of the Older People's Wellbeing team says:
"We find any way we can to put the individual in touch with someone who can help. When an older person meets anyone from the network of partners, each organisation should know what money management support is available, relevant to the older person's need.
"One of our aims is to cut down on the number of referrals that an older person has to go through".
To support this approach, the team has produced a ‘Trigger tool' in partnership with:
- the Pension Service
- Fire and Rescue services
- the health sector
- voluntary organisations
- other county council departments.
The tool brings together, in a single portable document, contact details for all the agencies that aim to assist older people. This covers a range of issues, including financial ones.
It aims to raise awareness and assist with signposting, ensuring the older person is always considered in a holistic way. It is supported by a training DVD and free ‘cascader sessions' on how to use it. They are available for the staff of any local organisation, statutory or voluntary.
Specific actions supported by the Older People's Wellbeing team that help older people maximise income include:
- advice at community information events - with the Pension Service and district councils
- Fuel poverty advice provided through local rural partners.
- a leaflet for older people to request a visit from the Pension Service.
In one part of the county, partners use information from concessionary bus pass schemes to write to older people about attendance allowance. If they wish to apply, a benefits check is undertaken over the phone. A partner organisation can visit the older person if they need help in completing the forms.
Funding from Citizens Advice Hampshire has been used to secure training and specialist services, including money advice to older people. In return, the Citizen Advice Bureau websites are hosted by Hampshire County Council.
A special edition for older people of the county's magazine ‘Hampshire Now' is available. It includes articles on energy efficiency, home insulation, and benefits.
The council is developing the older people's wellbeing website to cascade information across the county. It aims to provide a central signposting service.
A care choice website has been set up to help residents plan their care. This includes information on financial entitlements and help.
Hampshire County Council Trading Standards is helping prevent older people being taken advantage of through scams and doorstep crime. This includes, for example, ‘Safe and Sound' booklets and talks about consumer rights and staying safe.
District councils and older people's organisations have supported events around the county. For example, a ‘Money Matters' event attracted over 200 people. They heard Valerie Singleton, former ‘Blue Peter' and ‘The Money Programme' presenter, speak about how older people can save money.
Facilitating money management aspects of self-directed support
Direct payments to service users are one of the key components of the personalisation of care. However, the financial management aspects of direct payments have been a cause of anxiety for older people.
Hampshire has commissioned two organisations, Southampton Centre for Independent Living and Enham, to provide advice and support for those receiving direct payments. These support services offer a range of assistance with financial management, including:
- home visits to explain the system and the help available
- help with paperwork on direct payments, for example, keeping records of spending
- help with tax and national insurance on direct payments for paying for personal assistants.
In addition, there is a payroll service, for which a charge is made. This gives people employing personal assistants the ability to pay wages without having to calculate tax and national insurance contributions. The charge is picked up by the county council and included in the individual's direct payments.
The ‘Hants Card', supported by the Royal Bank of Scotland, is an extension of the direct payments scheme. Instead of cash, clients receive a preloaded ‘chip and pin' VISA debit card.
The card is intended for clients who have missed out on direct payments in the past as they did not have documentation. Or they could not physically go to a bank to open a regular bank account.
Pilot sites in Basingstoke and Fareham and Gosport support 150 clients. They will run for about 12 months before being evaluated.
What could have been done better?
The older people's wellbeing team did not begin its work with a systematic evaluative framework. Much good work was undertaken but was only collected on an ad hoc basis.
Work is taking place to pilot an evaluative framework this financial year (2010/11), with a view to it being fully implemented from April 2011. This will enable both quantitative and qualitative evidence to be collected more routinely.
The Older People's Wellbeing strategy ends on 31 March 2011. Work has already begun to ‘refresh' the strategy and a consultation is taking place to ask older people what their priorities are. This includes "knowing the benefits I am entitled to".
There are also opportunities for organisations to feed back the concerns and issues they have picked up. National research and policy documents will also be considered. The refreshed strategy and action plan will be in place from 1 April 2011.
Alex Burn - Head of Older People's Wellbeing
Email: [email protected]
Name: Paul Armstrong - Direct Payments Officer
Email: [email protected]
References and useful links
Hampshire direct payments scheme - on the Hampshire County Council website