CHAPTER 2 MONEY ADVICE PROJECTS IMPLEMENTATION AND ACTIVITIES
2.1 This chapter examines the development and operation of the pilot projects. It is based on analysis of: project documents; meetings with project managers; staff meetings; workshops with each of the pilots; initial interviews with 42 staff in other services engaging with the projects; and 13 follow-up interviews (Table A1.2). Details of the activities and outputs of the 11 projects involved in this evaluation are provided in Appendix 2. Although some reference is made in this chapter to these details, the main purpose here is to draw out key themes and issues across the projects. The discussion in this chapter is structured around the key themes of gathering monitoring information; approaches to advice; other activities; development approaches and project implementation. All of the projects aimed to improve access to money advice services for target groups and reflect the need to address barriers or difficulties that individuals face in accessing mainstream money advice services. Most services had existing experience of delivering money advice, but it was a new area of provision in the learning disabilities and lone parent projects, both of which had experience of welfare rights work.
2.2 The projects adopted a range of delivery methods to enable or improve service users' access. They included 9 that delivered direct advice, but a range of other approaches including financial education and development work were also adopted. The components of the different models used are summarised in Table A2.1.
2.3 Core monitoring frameworks for advice and non-advice activities were developed in consultation with the projects. These were modified for some projects such as those providing information and signposting services rather than full casework. The quality and extent of monitoring data produced by the projects is very varied. Despite guidance from the evaluation team, some projects recorded little data about core characteristics such as ethnic origin, mental health problems or learning disability.
2.4 The development projects have contributed to the knowledge base about monitoring capacity in the money advice sector. Both recognised the importance of monitoring to identify issues of access to mainstream services. During the period of the pilot, a new money advice monitoring and referrals system, informed by the BME project in relation to ethnic monitoring, was implemented by Glasgow City Council ( GCC) for use by advice services that they fund. Following piloting, the system has the potential to improve future understanding about access to services and referral (involving a managed transfer of all or part of the work involved in an exisiting case). However, in order to capture more information on access and gaps in service use, monitoring of signposting (telling someone where they can go for the help they need) as well as referral would be necessary.
2.5 The mental health project also aimed to have mainstream services monitor service use by people with mental health issues but did not have a wider strategy with which to link. Monitoring was viewed as necessary to understand the impact of the project activities on the use of mainstream services by the target group. The project negotiated modified monitoring criteria with the main advice service partners, all but one of which agreed to undertake monitoring. The project achieved this high level of engagement and participation through consultation. The process of consultation raised the need for training on a new money advice casework system that the project was able to fund and use as a vehicle to achieving informed participation in monitoring of service use by people with mental health issues.
2.6 Although some comparisons between projects and their activities are included here, these are limited by several factors. As well as inconsistencies in monitoring, pilot projects' approaches to advice delivery and the service user groups they target are also varied making comparisons difficult. For example, one project provided a telephone helpline that aimed to reach a large number of lone parents while another delivered an intensive service to a small number of people with learning disabilities. Accepting these issues, we identify the elements of service provision that led to improved access for groups and could be replicated in mainstream services.
Direct advice services
2.7 The 9 projects delivering advice involved: face to face advice on office premises or through outreach and home visiting services; telephone and email advice; and innovative approaches such as a mobile phone text service for young people and a 'personal log' for use by mental health service users accessing mainstream services. Most provided, or had the capacity to refer internally for, a full casework service except the lone parent helpline that provided initial information, advice and signposting only.
Approaches to Advice
Outreach and flexibility of location
2.8 Delivering advice in local communities was achieved through different approaches. In the transitions to work projects, JCP offices were used as a base in Renfrewshire, Argyll and Bute and in the later stages in Parkhead. Most projects offered a home visiting service, with particularly high numbers undertaken by the learning disabilities project. This pilot aimed to provide a tailored service. Home visiting was essential for carers who could not easily leave the house due to their caring responsibilities. For many of their service users attending appointments unsupported in an unfamiliar environment can be challenging and stressful, so that home visits were vital. In Argyll and Bute (Transitions/ Pathways) staff found that service users who were worried about small communities 'finding out their business' preferred home visits to appointments at the Jobcentre. In the Renfrewshire (Transitions/Pathways) project outreach services based in local communities offered well managed referral routes for staff in other services with vulnerable clients that were considered particularly effective for one worker operating from 'one stop shop' premises. The adviser at Glasgow Central (Transitions/ WiN) worked from an informal base at a community flat and offered flexibility in the location of advice delivery. The prisoners' project was delivered entirely within the prison.
2.9 Service delivery in the mainstream office was the main approach in Parkhead (Transitions/WiN) while East Renfrewshire (Transitions/ Pathways) offered a combination of office based and home visit appointments. In the young persons' project advice was delivered mostly from the mainstream office with joint meetings organised when required for clients of local youth workers. Although some practitioners expressed a preference for the adviser to have more presence in youth projects to build on their relationships with the young people, they were positive about the responsiveness and flexibility of the service, particularly in relation to where the adviser met people.
2.10 Two pilot projects identified potential outreach developments that were not implemented. Although the East Renfrewshire (Transitions/Pathways) project identified the potential for locality based provision in deprived areas, this change to the existing service model was not supported by the local authority. Partners in the prisoners' project recognised that a service in the visitors centre had potential to address the problems that families are often left to cope with, but it was considered to be an inappropriate space to deliver advice as the priority of families is to spend personal time with their relative.
2.11 Outreach and flexibility were central to the models adopted in several projects. Of interest here was whether improving initial access and contact is sufficient or whether flexibility in the location or setting of the advice delivery, moving away from a traditional office based service, is important. A full exploration and analysis of the service user's experiences of these services is provided in chapter 3 of this report (pages 29-33). However, what emerged from the research is that flexibility of access was highly valued by groups previously excluded from advice services. Amongst the staff in other services interviewed who linked with the projects or made referrals, flexibility in delivery was considered important to building trust and confidence, including taking the service to groups in locations with which they were comfortable.
2.12 Several advice workers commented on the value of joint meetings with a support worker or even a close friend or relative. Whilst such meetings need to be undertaken with the agreement of the client, they were particularly effective when clients had difficulty taking in all the information or understanding the options available to them. For young people they were central to building trust and confidence and, eventually, accessing the mainstream service unsupported.
Text and telephone services
2.13 In the young persons' project a mobile phone text service was perceived as an innovative approach to advice delivery appropriate for an age group who use mobile phones widely. It was advertised on buses on two occasions and through other routes. The contacts increased around the time of advertising but fell away again quite quickly, indicating the need for more regular advertising to maintain higher levels of enquiries. In 2 years, 301 texts led to more than half of the young people contacting the service for advice, 11 per cent of whom became ongoing cases.
2.14 The lone parent project offered a national information and signposting service, in the form of a telephone helpline. It aimed to provide initial information and advice with referral and/or signposting to other services as required. To make debt advice more accessible to lone parents , the project increased the specialist advice service and telephone helpline sessions from 3 to 5 days per week and aimed to include a stronger focus on money advice. It also developed a new email advice service. The project maintained levels of enquiries, but did not show an increase in enquiries related to money advice. However, our research shows that at times of transition for lone parents, money management issues and income maximisation are difficult to separate from other aspects of the major changes such as separation from partners or returning to work, so the helpline was meeting an established unmet need
Development projects and advice
2.15 Although both development projects aimed initially to undertake some direct advice provision (through outreach at the BME project and a volunteer signposting service in the mental health project) both plans changed. The BME project had difficulty in recruiting bi-lingual development workers who could undertake capacity building work and money advice provision. Added to the desire to address longer term issues, this led to the project steering group deciding not to undertake direct advice, but to concentrate on capacity building work with both mainstream and black and minority ethnic agencies to improve services for the communities. Following discussions in the steering group and at the project workshop on future developments, a fortnightly outreach service delivered by a CAB and located in one of the services for black and minority ethnic groups was set up. No details of usage of this service are available since the project was established when fieldwork for this evaluation was complete.
2.16 The mental health project's original plans for a volunteer project were changed at an early stage and two other approaches were developed instead. In order to encourage people with mental health problems towards volunteering, particularly in advice work, an introduction to volunteering course is being piloted with a group of people with mental health issues. This aims to increase the potential for longer term volunteering in advice services. Following on from this, the project is working with a local voluntary sector advice service to develop a targeted mental health advice service in the locality. The project also developed a 'personal log' that is being piloted amongst individuals with mental health issues, some of whom are supported by targeted services and some of whom are working with the personal log unsupported. The aim of the log is to provide individuals with an easy to use record of information they may be asked for as part of accessing services and completing forms. It includes sections on the person's 'story', contact details, and financial information. It is anticipated that the outcomes of these pilot activities will be included in a separate report in 2007 when the project is completed.
2.17 A range of other services were provided by the pilots, including the following:
- Talks, workshops or individual coaching sessionsfor service users to raise awareness of advice services or to improve financial literacy and awareness.
- Talks, training and seminars for practitioners to raise awareness of project services; facilitate appropriate referrals, particularly where referrals are integral to the project design; and raise awareness about money advice or the advice needs of particular groups. Most aim to improve the capacity of participants to identify when money advice is an issue for their clients, to spot when things are going wrong and to enable appropriate and timely referrals for money advice.
- Information for service users ranging from self help packs to briefing sheets on issues and information leaflets about projects.
- Development approaches such as audits, needs assessment, capacity building for other organisations that work with target client groups or deliver mainstream services and network and partnership building to improve referral pathways and alignment of services.
Talk, workshops and training
2.18 All of the projects delivered some talks or awareness raising sessions and targeted practitioners as well as service users.
Talks and workshops for service users
2.19 Talks and training for service users were developed in several projects. Talks to potential service users were important in both the prisoners' and young persons' projects throughout the 2 year period. In the prisons project, induction talks for prisoners were crucial for selling the service and were the main source of information on how to access advice. Talks delivered in pre-release programmes during part of the project were at an important time when some prisoners could flag up new issues, so it was very important to "pass that baton on" to relevant mainstream services, highlighting the importance of appropriate referral arrangements in such circumstances. Induction sessions were delivered on a weekly basis to new prisoners throughout the 2 year period. However, no data is available concerning talks in either project.
2.20 Short half day group workshops in Argyll and Bute were organised through hosts such as the Employability team, Argyll Training and JCP Personal Advisers. The partnership in Dunoon has been particularly successful with continuous participation with Argyll Training through the lifetime of the pilot. This approach enabled the service to deliver some basic budgeting skills training to a large number of people. In an 8 month period in 2006, 16 sessions were delivered to 113 individuals.
2.21 The East Renfrewshire (Transitions/Pathways) project designed a flexible course which could be delivered in full over four weeks or in part as stand alone sessions. This course also addressed debt and budgeting skills but included activities addressing financial issues related to the transition to work. However, no dedicated training provider operated within the area while the pilot was in operation. This limited the project's ability to test their intended approach to tackling financial inclusion through financial education, money advice and debt counselling. In total, 25 service users and 10 support workers received training.
2.22 In the lone parent project, the financial inclusion worker delivered training to 136 people as part of the JCP 'Discovery Week' initiative. The focus of that training was on money issues and the personal contact with the trainer was considered important to a number of these lone parents contacting the service for advice after the training.
2.23 Service user perspectives on the training provided by projects are discussed in the next chapter.
Talks and training for staff referring to services or supporting groups
2.24 As part of awareness raising about the projects and to address when and how to raise money or debt issues most services delivered introductory talks or training sessions for staff in other services including JCP and services working with target groups. These were concentrated in the early stages in most projects but were delivered at several points in some projects as refresher training or to introduce new staff to the projects. This was particularly relevant in some of the JCP projects where staff turnover was high in the referral services.
2.25 While staff who attended these sessions were positive about the content and delivery of the training, this success was not translated into referrals to the services. For staff key barriers to referring remained throughout the pilot and included: raising debt or money advice as an issue, as this was perceived to be a sensitive issue that was difficult to broach; prioritising money advise among the competing pressures in their day-to-day responsibilities; and service user's perceptions of JCP- their support role is often subsumed by their role in 'benefit policing'. Approaches which were more successful at addressing barriers to referrals and maintaining awareness of the pilot projects amongst JCP staff, included work shadowing and locating a money adviser within JCP offices. However, even where these approaches were tested, referral rates remained low. Greatest successes were achieved in the Glasgow Central (Transitions/ WiN) project where JCP advisers worked closely with a partner responsible for providing more in-depth and intensive support. Here staff clearly had a space to 'flag up' a range of issues they had identified with which clients needed support and this space did not conflict with their other responsibilities.
2.26 A substantial programme of training was developed by the lone parent project. Pilot managers considered that the training was central to the financial focus of the project. The training was designed as a flexible, modular programme for staff in a range of advice and support services. Overall, 26 training sessions were delivered to 181 practitioners across Scotland and the project estimated that, through these practitioners, approximately 8,938 lone parents would benefit. In our research, interviewees said they attended training to raise their knowledge and awareness of a range of issues for the client group. They reflected the difficulties of pitching training at a level that met a wide range of needs and experience. However, all gained a better understanding of the helpline service, more knowledge about some welfare benefits and dealing with debt and better awareness and knowledge of financial issues for lone parents. The training gave advice workers a broader understanding of the boundaries of their own work and increased their confidence in raising financial issues and supporting people to address them.
2.27 The development projects ( BME groups and mental health) have delivered or facilitated training as part of their activities. A money advice training day was provided for services targeting black and minority ethnic communities in Glasgow that achieved a good turnout and was considered successful in raising awareness of money advice, the routes to achieving competencies in delivering money advice and appropriate referral routes for individuals requiring such support. In the final stage, the project is exploring potential follow up training and cultural awareness training. In addition to the induction to volunteering pilot identified above, training in the mental health project has included training for trainers, welfare rights training and training on the use of Access and MACS systems, two key computer packages used by money advice workers for casework recording. The project is developing bespoke anti-stigma training targeting advice services that will be based on the 'See Me' campaign and will include service users in delivery.
2.28 Most projects produced some leaflets to advertise the service. For JCP staff written information about the projects was useful as it provided general information about the projects. Leaflets were also important for some staff who found it difficult to broach the subject of debt or money management since it provided an additional route to raising the potential benefits of the service with clients:
"We do have the leaflets out on our desks. You'll find a lot of the time the person is fidgeting when you are talking and you do see it, they'll take a leaflet. Sometimes that helps us to bring something up, or at least they then see the service is available." (WiN Adviser, Glasgow Central (Transitions/ WiN) project)
2.29 The lone parent project developed a series of 8 briefing papers. These covered a range of debt, benefits, education and financial management issues that addressed key transition points for lone parents. They were provided in hard copy and were accessible through the websites of both organisations and staff used the briefing sheets to provide customised packs of information for lone parents using the helpline. They viewed the briefings as important to the model of a helpline service for reinforcing telephone advice. Over the period of the project more than 400 publications were sent to individuals and organisations.
2.30 The Renfrewshire (Transitions/Pathways) project developed a self help pack that was used in several ways: it provided potential service users with a route to advice by signposting the reader to the service throughout the publication and it helped people with good literacy levels and confidence to act for themselves. JCP staff also used the pack to reinforce the training they had received from the service. The pack includes standard letters printed in headed note paper that advisers found significant in successfully negotiating with creditors. The East Renfrewshire (Transitions/Pathways) project also developed a self help pack but it was not published during the time of the project because of delays within the local authority in getting authority to publish.
2.31 Development and capacity building activities formed the focus of the mental health project based in North Lanarkshire and the project for black and minority ethnic groups based in Glasgow. Lessons about the effectiveness of the approaches developed, in improving access to money advice for vulnerable groups, are drawn from these two pilots. The mental health project has not been fully evaluated yet, but the BME project is near to completion at the time of writing and discussion of that project is in more depth here.
2.32 Both projects aimed to improve access to mainstream advice and address weak links between specialist support organisations and existing mainstream services, including referral and networking. However, they took different approaches. The BME project had a focus on mapping and needs assessment. It worked mainly with services that target black and minority ethnic groups and include advice in the services they deliver, aiming to improve their links with mainstream advice services. In contrast, the mental health project worked more with mainstream advice services, while including activities that involve service users and targeted services.
Mapping, auditing and needs assessment
2.33 The mental health project conducted a mapping of services and training needs assessment in the early stages of the project. This involved face to face meetings with service providers and a survey that informed development of training. The BME project conducted a research exercise mapping information and advice services dedicated for BME groups and identified 9 organisations across Glasgow. They mapped potential demand for money advice services from BME communities in the city and conducted an audit and training needs analysis with the BME advice organisations. Where services delivered money advice, several weaknesses were identified in the provision. These included: an absence of specified funding; limited access to training resources; little or no recording of money advice cases or enquiries; and problems in the recruitment and retention of trained staff. Feedback was delivered to services through a development day in preference to direct work with each service. This approach was useful for understanding more about gaps in provision but did not lead to a focus on capacity building with the services.
2.34 In our research interviews, concerns were raised across the services for BME groups about this aspect of the project. Interviewees viewed participation in the research for the needs assessment as involving a significant time commitment. This was considered worthwhile by most, but, as the following quote illustrates, alternative approaches might have worked better for this sector:
"It took a whole afternoon and then I had to send out some other information. It took an awful lot of time and that actually is problematic when people do things like that that take that length of time. Most of the BME organisations are pretty small and hard stretched and finding a half day… I know its important and I thought it was important, which is why I gave up that time, but if we could find ways of doing things a bit quicker, it would be good."
2.35 Further findings from the research pointed to the need for more effective engagement with the BME services. Specifically, few service managers were aware that a mapping report had been pulled together from the needs assessment exercise. Few were aware of the pilot's aims or activities and most did not distinguish the mapping exercise from the production of the directory of advice services by the Glasgow Advice and Information Network ( GAIN) that was modified to include BME organisations as a result of input from the project.
Networking, publicity and awareness raising activities
2.36 Three development days were organised by the BME project in 2005: one for services targeting black and minority ethnic communities; one for mainstream advice services; and a joint day for both groups. The sessions encouraged networking, explored the barriers to accessing money advice for BME groups, considered solutions and contributed to developing an action plan for the pilot. The joint day was poorly attended - excluding those involved in the delivery of the pilot, 6 delegates attended. The steering group considered that the low turn out of mainstream services reflected institutional racism. Interviewees highlighted other factors including: the day took place late in the life of the project; late notification had affected attendance; and some realised that it would be a referral project, which one BME project manager said rendered the pilot "totally irrelevant" to them. This reflected the concerns of several project managers who felt they were struggling to come with demand including, in this case, from a community group that the service was not intended to support.
2.37 The mental health project held events in its early stages. These events involved people with mental health problems, service user groups and public, private and voluntary organisations working in the mental health and advice fields. They included: introductory and launch events in 2005; and a stakeholder review event in 2006 to feedback on lessons from the early stages of the project and inform the future work of the project. The project is also contributing to a community based touch screen computer terminals that will be expanded to give access to an interactive web-based resource, including a service directory on mental health. This work replaced original plans for development of a service directory.
2.38 A key focus in the BME project was to encourage participation of BME organisations in several locality based Area Implementation Groups ( AIGs) and a city wide group that exists to implement the Council's advice strategy. Although project staff participated regularly in AIGs, only 3 BME organisations had some limited involvement. The AIGs have changed to reflect new social work areas in the council and 2 BME organisations have attended at the city wide meetings, one of which also attended one new AIG.
2.39 Although both projects took strategic approaches to achieve sustainable change to meet the needs of the target groups, they represent very different approaches that are reflected in decision making structures. The mental health project steering group involves delivery partners and representatives from service user groups, targeted services and advice providers in the area. The steering group in the BME project consisted of the delivery partners with Money Advice Scotland and an advisory group planned in the proposal was not set up. Steering group members in the BME project considered that the range of activities ensured that the project engaged effectively with advice and community groups. Our research suggests that the lack of involvement of services and service user interests in the project contributed to disengagement and limited the potential to broaden ownership of the project and its aims. Although some progress was made in strategic development, we found little evidence of changing practice in mainstream and targeted services and important outstanding issues that remain to be addressed. These include lack of cultural awareness and diversity in services, lack of access to necessary interpreting and an unmet need for access to high quality money advice that remains to be addressed.
2.40 The mental health project involves service users at 3 levels: on the steering group taking part in decision making with the delivery partners and representatives from mainstream and targeted services; in working with the services that support the target groups; and as individuals participating in project activities such as training and piloting the personal log. The indications from our research are that such an approach should be more effective since it combines work at the strategic level to influence policy with activities that put that policy into practice and ensures 'buy in' of stakeholder groups to undertake sustainable change. It will be of central interest to see whether this approach has more impact on the way services are delivered and, critically, whether they improve access to services for people with mental health issues.
2.41 This section of the report examines the issues related to project implementation and management which impacted on the delivery of the pilots.
Project start-up and implementation issues
2.42 Some projects, faced problems with getting started because of issues such as getting equipment and systems in place. This was most problematic for pilots located in local authorities and heightened where roles and responsibilities in new partnerships had to be established. In the young persons' project staff needed enhanced disclosure that took several weeks, delaying implementation of the full service. The mental health project experienced the longest delays in getting set up - staff were not in post until the middle of 2005 by which time some other projects had been running for a year. Some projects needed to change the services or activities they had planned, particularly the development projects. Generally, projects under-estimated the time needed for start-up. All the issues identified here, are not uncommon in the start-up of pilot projects. They are identifiable risks and their negative impact could be reduced, if services were required at the application stage to identify such risks and demonstrate how they would be minimised.
2.43 Most projects faced problems of staff turnover that were addressed in different ways. This had least impact on projects where secondment of experienced staff was possible from the mainstream service. The BME project had difficulties with both recruitment and retention. It had difficulty recruiting staff with the range of skills it needed and had high staff turnover with a total of 4 people having left the 2 development posts during the life of the project. However, recognising the lack of representation of BME communities in mainstream services led to the development workers attending a range of money advice training to maintain and develop their knowledge and skills.
2.44 The projects identified training needs of staff. For some the need to improve knowledge and expertise in money advice was addressed by attendance at training, shadowing and linking with other services. Some mainstream services identified the need for staff to have access to more training or support to meet the needs of target groups. In Renfrewshire (Transitions/Pathways), for example, 41% of service users had mental ill health. Staff felt 'burnt-out' and identified a range of training needs and skills required when working with IB claimants who may have a wide range of complex health problems. One step taken included linking in with 'First Crisis' for advice in helping people who are suicidal.
2.45 In the prisons project, staff issues arose due to the need to work in a closed environment which involves being locked in and locked out that was difficult for a lone advice worker. The level of advice required was also considered to be deskilling for an experienced adviser. On review, it was decided to have 2 staff working part-time on the project, spending the remainder of their time on mainstream money advice. The aim of this change was to deliver 4 full days of front-line advice (including one day where both staff members overlap) and to reduce the isolation faced by a lone worker on the project.
Project targets and caseloads
2.46 In 9 of the direct advice services, 7 had set targets for the number of people they expected to be referred or would deal with. Only Glasgow Central of the transitions to work projects delivered advice that reflected the number anticipated in targets. The lone parent project anticipated 1000 more enquiries per year to their helpline. Although numbers increased initially, over the 2 year period enquiry levels remained similar to past years. Debt enquiries remained low despite the aim of achieving a more money focused service.
2.47 Across the projects, casework for some service user groups, particularly people with mental health problems or learning disabilities, was found to need more time, particularly direct contact time. This had an impact on the caseload that advice staff could take on. Where projects were able to provide time monitoring information, the evaluation has been able to draw out lessons about case-load management. Argyll and Bute (Transitions/ Pathways) and the learning disabilities project in particular, considered on reflection that their targets had been too ambitious:
- In Argyll and Bute they had to contend with a remote and islands area where travel time could take up a significant part of the working day. Time monitoring over a 3 month period showed travelling times ranged from 2 hours to over 9 hours per week.
- In the learning disabilities project the in-depth work involved meant work was more intensive but caseloads needed to be smaller than originally anticipated. Almost half of their cases remained live and advisers found that many cases that were closed had to be re-opened when further advice and support was required. Staff recorded direct contact time with individuals from September 2004 to mid-November 2005. This showed that much more direct contact time than normal is needed for people with learning disabilities. However, the time spent on follow-up work was not substantially greater than for general money advice. Time recording also showed that, as situations are resolved, the time spent on cases diminishes to something closer to mainstream money advice work.
- In Renfrewshire (Transitions/Pathways) a high proportion of service users had mental health problems ranging from anxiety and depression to paranoid schizophrenia and other severely debilitating conditions. Advice workers found case work time was greatly increased due to the nature of the client base since many needed longer and more frequent interviews. Some clients found it difficult to retain information and were more likely to ask for repeat information face to face or by telephone rather than in writing.
2.48 These projects point to the importance of addressing staff support needs in project and caseload planning. No targets were set for either the young persons' or the prisoners' projects. This had less impact on the prisoners' project where there was previous experience of running a prison based service and a broad sense of potential demand. In the young persons' project however, the service may have benefited from setting targets and structure for advice and a more specific focus and direction for awareness raising and development work. This is an example of a broader issue about managing of projects and staff. The most successful projects were closely managed and included features such as: regular review and revision of project implementation; regular staff meetings; supervision that ensured staff support was provided and conflicts between project and mainstream activities were resolved.
2.49 Appropriate referral to projects was important across the services delivering direct advice either through formal referral routes or self referrals. In some cases, self referral became a feature as projects developed, including some transitions to work projects, particularly Glasgow Central (Transitions/ WiN). The lone parent and prisoners' projects relied on self referral. The lone parent project addressed this through a range of publicity measures, including posters and leaflets in the type of agencies that lone parents are likely to use. In the prisoners' project weekly induction sessions were run in preference to relying on other services working in the prison and were considered by the Link Centre manager to be critical to ensuring that prisoners could access the service.
2.50 At the learning disabilities project, staff confidence in making referrals to the project was linked to their preferences for in-house delivery of money advice since expertise was built on existing knowledge and experience of learning disabilities often lacking in mainstream services.
2.51 With the exception of Glasgow Central referrals in all of the transitions to work projects remained well below the levels anticipated in project proposals. Stakeholders identified various factors that contributed to this including: low staff morale in JCP; lack of space for money advisers to be present in JCP offices; and difficulty in achieving a presence in remote communities. Strategies adopted to address this included widening the range of agencies who could refer to include NHS condition management staff and voluntary sector services (Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, Argyll and Bute), additional meetings and contacts with JCP staff and managers (all) and increased presence in the Jobcentre (Parkhead). This led to some more referrals in Renfrewshire and was valued by other services working with Pathways to Work, including one NHS condition management worker:
"Other stakeholders we work with have to be referred through their PA (personal adviser) and often you can't get hold of the PA to actually make the referral but we were assured that we could actually make direct referrals and that they were all over the area which meant that customers didn't have to travel..."
2.52 A pilot survey form was tested in Parkhead. It aimed to find out why JCP clients did not want to see a money adviser and provided a prompt that might help staff who found raising money advice difficult. From a range of options, all responses in the pilot ticked the option of "no money worries". It was not extended since it was clear that the questionnaire would not contribute to understanding more about low referrals from JCP. Through the research interviews with JCP staff it was evident that, in their day to day work, staff found form-filling and paper-work overwhelming. Additional forms were unwelcome and resisted. The form did act as a prompt, but staff attitudes and a lack of understanding of clients' money advice needs remained unchallenged by the process and these emerged as the key barriers to referral.
"I wasn't offering the service or pushing the service because I thought the customer didn't need it. I think it was bias on my part and I think that was replicated by other job centre staff. That some customers you just didn't offer the service to because you felt there was no way that they would need it. The training was good, but at the same time it was almost two years before it was picked up that I had a bias..."
2.53 In the latter stages of the project, increased contact time between JCP staff and the money advisers identified and removed this barrier but it did not improve referral rates. Project staff time spent on such development work was not productive in this case. In the WiN pilot projects, staff in both Working Links and Reed in Partnership, who delivered the pilot for JCP, viewed their role as different from advisers in JCP since they were able to take more proactive approaches to the support they provided.
2.54 However, different working relationships between JCP offices and the delivery agencies and different approaches to referral affected engagement with the money advice projects. JCP staff in Parkhead were more likely to form a view of themselves about the appropriateness of referral. This was compounded by perceptions in JCP of difficulties and delays with appointments and lack of presence and pressure of work for the project adviser. Changing attitudes, revision of the referral system to include direct booking of appointments and a stronger presence of the adviser in JCP premises, whilst preferred by JCP and Working Links staff, had little impact on referral rates in Parkhead. This highlights that referral services can have an important role in improving access to services, but projects relying on a single referral source risk facing barriers to progress if support for the project is not achieved. to the potential disadvantage of service users who might benefit from the service on offer.
2.55 In contrast, JCP staff working with the Glasgow Central project would normally flag up any money advice issues to Reed in Partnership to address in their work with the person since Reeds had scope to "go that bit extra" for clients.
2.56 From across the projects, features considered effective for maintaining interest and referral rates included:
- A clear and shared understanding of roles and responsibilities - this was considered relevant to the greater success with referral rates in the Glasgow Central (Transitions/ WiN) project
- The speed and ease of referrals, regular and informal contact with the project adviser and the client choice of where to meet also contributed to greater confidence amongst service users and referring staff (Glasgow Central (Transitions/ WiN) project)
- Involvement of managers - for example in Argyll and Bute (Transitions/ Pathways), one JCP manager took part in the interview panel for the pilot adviser posts and referrals from that office were maintained more easily in that area and
- Feedback from clients and projects about progress and what is working (within the limits of client confidentiality)
2.57 All of the pilots involved a level of partnership working:
- In the development projects, new delivery partnerships across public and voluntary sector services were central to approaches that aimed to address weaknesses in the links between specialist and mainstream advice providers. Both involved local authorities as the main contractors for the project and delivery was provided by voluntary sector services with expertise in meeting the needs of the client groups.
- The 5 transitions to work projects emphasised supporting transitions to work. Project delivery was in partnership with JCP 'Pathways to Work' and WiN projects. Partners agreed formal referral mechanisms, awareness raising sessions for relevant staff. In some cases money advisers were located in or close to Jobcentre Plus premises.
- The targeted projects did not operate within formal partnerships, except the prisoners' project that involved close partnership working between the Advice Shop and the Link Centre at Edinburgh Prison. All projects did undertake activities to encourage practitioners to engage with them, make referrals and encourage self referral.
2.58 New partnerships took time to develop and in some cases this contributed to slow progress. This was a factor in both development projects, where all or some of the work has been contracted out, involving the need to negotiate further contracts. Similarly, where work was subcontracted, additional time and resources were needed to put structures in place to ensure communication and accountability between contract holders and subcontractors. Evaluation identified clear benefits to establishing partnership agreements and developing working relationships between agencies before the start-up of short-term pilot projects.
2.59 The Renfrewshire (Transitions/Pathways) project worked with organisations other than Jobcentre Plus such as a head injury unit and found that joint working was effective in improving access to advice for people with complex health problems. Staff could support clients to attend and follow through on advice provided by advisers. Staff in support services working with the target groups also highlighted the mutual benefits of knowledge exchange where both organisations can access information and specialist training that will improve access to services for clients.
2.60 This chapter has examined the development and operation of the pilot projects. Drawing on analysis of a range of data, it has identified features of advice delivery that were considered important by project stakeholders, managers, advisers and staff in other services to improving access to service and supporting successfully disadvantaged service user groups. It also highlights the circumstances in which other approaches such as talks, workshop, training and written information can help to improve access and suitability of services and raise knowledge and awareness about rights and services amongst service users and support services working with target groups. The perceptions of service users and their experiences of using these services are discussed in the next chapter.