The Financial Inclusion Programme at Wales Cooperative Centre’s purpose is to promote financial inclusion throughout Wales through innovative projects and partnership working with stakeholder organisations. The aims of the team are:
- To enable individuals to manage their day to day finances, plan for a secure financial future, deal with financial pressure and distress
- To advance synergistic working of partners at referrer level
- To incorporate Financial Inclusion into stakeholders / partners wider strategic vision at local / sub regional level
- To strengthen delivery of the Welsh Government’s Financial Inclusion Strategy for Wales and wider initiatives across Wales and the UK.
The THFI project was conceived as a strategic response to a specific concern; namely that financially excluded households are at greater risk of being or becoming homeless, especially in the private sector. In the context of forthcoming welfare reform and the move from housing benefit to universal credit, the Centre identified an opportunity to influence policy at a local level to promote the use of financial inclusion to mitigate the impact of welfare reform.
In summary the project goal is to “Prevent homelessness by promoting individuals’ ability to manage their money in the short, medium and long term”. In practice, the project will bring together stakeholders to produce a toolkit of resources that will influence policy change at LAs in the South Wales area. As a minimum, the intention is to encourage LAs to support the role of Credit Unions through the payment of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) directly into a CU rent account/similar on behalf of a vulnerable householder. By delivering this intervention, a number of positive outcomes are achieved:
- LA supports financial inclusion methods to reduce homelessness/risk of homelessness in their area.
- Householder accesses CU support and wider financial inclusion tools, becoming more financially capable.
- Private landlord has more assurance over payment of rent – reduced likelihood of rent arrears.