The Centre for Social Justice and Change (CSJC), University of East London (UEL), working with
Money a+e, administered 87 questionnaires and conducted 10 interviews with people that
underwent the training to become a Money Champion. This final report presents the findings from
The central finding of the report is that undergoing training to become a Money Champion
makes people feel better able to manage their finances. Just 50% expressed confidence in this
before the training compared to 97% after. Money Champions felt more aware of financial
services (30% to 92%); more aware of online tools and support websites (22% to 98%); and more
confident in seeking out consumer deals to meet their needs (38% - 97%). This has a knock-on
effect for peoples overall sense of wellbeing with an increase from 53% to 95% of participants
stating that the training has improved their abilities to remain well and healthy even when they
are facing money problems.
When we explored these changed attitudes and behaviours in the interviews we found further
evidence of changed financial behaviour with participants ending high risk practices (cutting up
credit cards, not taking out payday loans); engaging in short term saving; confronting rather than
putting off debt problems.
Amongst the people that we interviewed we found abundant evidence of hardship and debt
both in the interviewees lives and in the lives of the people they served and interacted with.
Changes to the welfare system and low pay, again and again, came up as a cause of hardship and
indebtedness. In addition we found ample evidence of the link between hardship and mental
illness. While debt in itself is not the cause of mental health problems it can exacerbate
underlying conditions and in this regard count as a contributory factor. Staying in control of your
money is therefore important for general wellbeing.
Overall we found the peer-to-peer approach of the programme to be effective as a way of
getting beyond peoples initial reluctance to talk about their finances and as a way of
disseminating the educational programme. However we would have liked to have seen more
evidence of the ‘ripple effect’ intended. For a number of reasons – institutional and
interpersonal - it proved difficult to contact those who had been mentored by the Money
Champions and addressing this issue somehow, forms our central recommendation for the
programme going forward.
We found that the peer-to-peer approach was less effective in organisations where the service
provider/client relationship is entrenched. The housing associations, for example, where the
relationship between service provider and client can be marked by lack of trust makes it difficult
for the peer-to-peer approach to flourish. However, this ought not to be insurmountable
especially if clients are referred to the money advice teams at an early staged before they have
amassed significant arrears.
Finally we found ample evidence that participants were sufficiently enthused by the programme
to want to expand it to include other partners (e.g. a credit union), and other community
institutions (schools, colleges etc.) Some participants suggested linking in the programme with a
range of other services including mental health, addiction and counselling services.