Background full of random shapes

New pilot combats the health toll of money worries

economic wellbeing
Author:
James Ludley

Residents struggling with money and their health will benefit from a new money guidance service in South London from this month.

 

 

Health and care partners have linked up with Quids in! Money Guidance to help residents increase their incomes and reduce their spending.

Four in 10 Londoners are living below the Minimum Income Standard, putting them at a higher risk for poverty-related health issues such as chronic illnesses, mental health issues, and reduced life expectancy.

Funded by the Mayor of London and supported by Thrive LDN, London’s public mental health partnership, the pilot programme launched in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham on 5 February.

A targeted number of residents are being offered a money health check and guidance to help reduce the impact of financial worries on their health.

The service is phone-based to reduce travel costs and fit around participants’ other commitments.

Space to get well

 

The Quids in! Money Guidance offer includes magazines and guides, a website full of news and money-saving tips, a monthly email covering the latest news on benefits, employment and bargains, as well as a face-to-face support service in some areas.

Jeff Mitchell, managing director of Clean Slate Training and Employment, which runs Quids in!, said: “When every waking thought is about keeping the children fed, it’s hard for people to think enough about their health.

Quids in! coaches give people time to pause, take stock, explore their options and shore up their finances. Once they have their heads above water financially, they have both the means and the confidence to focus on getting well.”

During the pandemic, a team of advisors took to the phones to conduct the Quids in! money health check. Some 3,000 social tenants, benefit claimants and long-term unemployed people took part. In one service, 98 per cent of participants were found to be disabled or have emotional or recognised mental health support needs.

In its 2023 Cost of Living Survey, Quids in! found that on account of money worries 73 per cent of social renters on the lowest incomes had felt frightened, anxious or depressed; 64 per cent had skipped meals; 75 per cent were turning off the heating despite being cold; and, 36 per cent had become physically ill.

In 2023, its money guidance programmes helped people access average financial gains of £1,244.

Money worries and health

 

The links between living on a low income and poorer health outcomes are well documented. But on top of this, Quids in! is also well aware of how simply worrying about money can impact on health.

Joanne, who came to Quids in! before this pilot started, had been struggling with her mental health. She had just £10 a month to spend on food, and dinner some nights was half a Pot Noodle.

We walked her through a money health check and she said she had a big bag of unopened post. We supported her to open the mail and discovered she’d been overpaying housing costs and had an unused gym membership.

And there was a cheque from the Widow’s Benevolent Fund. Not only did she have a windfall of £4,700, from there on she was £2,200 a year better off.

She was able to eat and an emotional burden was lifted. She was ready to access debt support and felt strong enough to begin thinking about a return to work.

Joined-up thinking

 

Thrive LDN director, Dan Barrett, said: “We recognise the profound impact of financial struggles on mental health. We are thrilled to partner with Clean Slate on this pilot to support people on lower incomes and assist those individuals through an evidence-based money guidance programme.

“By exploring and educating on health and wellbeing indicators, this initiative marks a crucial step towards an integrated approach to tackling health inequalities and creating tailored solutions for those who need it most.”

Clean Slate believes non-medical services, such as Quids in! Money Guidance, should be considered part of a broad public health system, providing holistic support to communities to help themselves be better off.

 

Main image: Frankie Stone