Increasing Financial Resilience

 

Action 5: Enhance advice & support for people on low incomes to help them increase their financial resilience and maximise income

Food poverty is often caused by a lack of financial resilience. Providing advice and support to people on low incomes to maximise their incomings and better manage their outgoings will help to build financial resilience. Actions may include:​

  • Ensuring that people across Shropshire know where to go for advice and support on money issues, especially where to get debt advice and collating budgeting tips and local advice to reduce outgoings such as household bills

  • Providing benefit checks to ensure that people are getting all the financial support they are entitled to and promoting benefits like Healthy Start which are currently underclaimed (just 64% of eligible families in Shropshire claim the benefit)

  • Promoting changes to policy which would increase incomes (the living wage, welfare reform) and working with local schools to ensure they develop the financial management skills of future generations

Many people in Shropshire have low financial resilience

  • Low wages combined with a high rate of part time and insecure work makes it difficult for many households to keep pace with the increases in the cost of living, leading to debt problems for many

  • The complex nature of welfare changes since 2010 have left many households confused about their eligibility to support

  • Over the next few years a large number of households will need to apply for Universal Credit, leading to a hiatus in benefit payments

 

  • There is evidence which suggests that some households are unaware of their eligibility to certain benefits. For example, Healthy Start Vouchers are available to families on low incomes with young children and can only be spent on fresh fruit, vegetables and milk. However just 64% if eligible households in Shropshire claim the vouchers​

More information

Advice Services in Shropshire

There is a pressing need for advice services across the county to assist people maximise their income and increase their financial resilience. However, services in this area have been impacted by austerity cuts. In recent years Shropshire's Citizen's Advice Service has closed many of its offices around the county and their service is now largely telephone based. A number of other agencies such as Housing Associations offer money advice, however this is not often immediately apparent to households who do not live in Housing Association properties.

Sarah, in her late 50s, became homeless after her partner unexpectedly left her. To get by she found two part time jobs. Unaware of how the benefits system worked, she didn't claim working tax credits. Her claim for housing benefit was ended when she earnt additional money through working overtime. She started using food banks after she was unable to make ends meet and built up significant council tax arrears.

There is a need for:

  • Clear information about where to go for help and advice on money issues

  • Benefit checks to ensure that people are receiving the help they are entitled to

  • Promotion of underclaimed benefits e.g. Healthy Start, Attendance Allowance

  • Assistance with new benefits claims e.g. Universal Credit

  • Debt counselling and Support

  • Assistance with budgeting and money management

  • Clear information about schemes which assist people on low incomes e.g. help with energy costs​

Shropshire Larder

We have created the Shropshire Larder website as a way of bringing together information which will be of assistance to people in food poverty. 

shropshire larder.PNG

“Where would you go for help? I guess the job centre, as CAB has closed down. That’s the problem with this town is that everything seems to close down."

(Interviewee from Whitchurch)

Increasing access to food and cooking equipment