Local Citizens Advice submit evidence to APPG

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In collaboration with Citizens Advice Ashfield we submitted evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for ‘left behind neighbourhoods.’ In our submission we explained how many local communities in the East Midlands had failed to benefit from strategic economic investments made by the current and previous governments and the European Union. The experience of Citizens Advice services in Nottinghamshire is that the same people from the same neighbourhoods come to us time and time again facing financial crisis. We explained that our findings suggest place is the key determinant of economic inequality.

We provided evidence on how the localised approach, developed in Broxtowe was making a real difference. Our Financial Resilience programmes work with local people to create an holistic individualised plan to shift income levels, create confident consumers with sound financial capability and help people towards building assets and a safety net to reduce the risks of economic crisis caused by downturns in the economy and other pressures such as the cost-of-living.

This has led to achieving measurable improvements in peoples financial well-being and ability to fully participate in the economy. In our six month report to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund plan for Broxtowe we highlighted the outputs that included help for 271 clients who faced economic hardship of whom 80% self reported improvements in financial resilience, this included £632,334 of increased income. We also worked with our partners at Futures to support 48 people with employment and skills outcomes, helping them increase their economic activity.

OutputActualEnd of year target
Total clients FRWs271410
Employment & skills support4850
Improvement in Fin Res80%80%
Financial gains£632,334£400,000

Case study

    Client was taken onto the project after losing his job and becoming a full-time carer for one of his parents. He didn’t know where to turn for help and was feeling overwhelmed. We initially assisted him with his Universal Credit and carers allowance. Along with receiving support from Nottinghamshire Mind.  With stabilisation of his situation he began to feel more positive.

    Carers are now coming in to support him with day-to-day care for his father, which means he has been able to find work. Income projection calculations were completed so that the client was aware of all the options and the interaction between work and carers allowance. This allowed him to make decisions about how to balance his commitment to work and his caring responsibilities. 

    After a meeting was arranged with Futures (careers service). Client has now been offered a part time job.

    APPG Report

    The detailed work we are carrying out with clients who have not benefited from economic levelling up puts us in a good position to to provide in-the-field information on the challenges the target group faces and more importantly what works. Our model of working targets resources locally, supporting people facing economic injustice, providing them with holistic advice and setting objectives for system change. We are clear about how we measure our success and what this looks like. We feel too many resources have been distributed as a response to the cost-of-living crisis with no clear idea about what the final outcomes are.

    We also feel that building local intelligence with input by those with lived experience helps organisations design a levelling up theory of change. How it is achieved and what steps to take.

    Given our firm conclusions derived from the Development of Financial Resilience Broxtowe we were pleased to read the report which summarised what we think are sound principles and learning. The APPG on left behind neighbourhoods called for; greater involvement of local communities and new funding models to make a difference in England’s most ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods.”

    The three key finding in the report were:

    Redistributing power from the centre to communities. Powers, responsibilities and accountabilities are too concentrated in Westminster and Whitehall and funding is often directed by the centre towards traditional infrastructure and economic development projects that may not reach people living in ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods. 

    Transforming funding and resources. Currently, the funding model for levelling up in England is too centralised, short-term, bureaucratic, and inflexible. The dominant funding model also emphasises one-off capital investment while neglecting the revenue funding that is critical for community development. This can hinder the development of locally-driven solutions to challenges faced by ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods, as resources are often allocated according to top-down priorities and predefined criteria.

    Shifting the culture from control to trust. The report recommends moving towards a culture of trust in which local people are empowered to act and then held accountable, and away from a culture of control by the centre.

    The full report is available here.

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