We are delighted to announce that CfRC has been commissioned by the Local Government Association to help scope out potential improvements to financial support for low income households, and suggest possible trials of new approaches in 2018/19.

The research will involve working closely with up to ten local authorities between now and the end of March to explore whether direct financial support for low income households (including Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support and a range of discretionary payments) could be better integrated with debt and budgeting advice and wider financial inclusion initiatives at the local level, and whether this could improve outcomes for statutory service provision.

We will be drawing together case studies of existing good practice from selected local authority areas, as well as providing an assessment of the potential for, and barriers to, further integration.  We will also be assessing how the social impacts of financial support, advice, and financial inclusion initiatives are currently being evaluated and developing ideas for a consistent evaluation framework for use in possible trials later this year.

The emerging findings from the scoping exercise will be presented at the forthcoming Centre for Responsible Credit conference (‘Redesigning Financial Services and Support’, Resource for London, 25th April) which will provide an opportunity for delegates to discuss the draft recommendations prior to the publication of the final report by the end of that month.

As well as undertaking research with a selection of authorities for this project, we are keen to create a wider network of contacts with an interest in these issues in the local government sector. If you would like to be placed on a mailing list to receive further details of the project as this progresses, or have any questions in respect of this, please contact Damon Gibbons on damon.gibbons@learningandwork.org.uk