What’s happened to my £1m donation to Citizens Advice?

What's happened to my £1m donation to Citizens Advice?

What's happened to my £1m donation to Citizens Advice?

In June 2012 I pledged a £10m donation to charity. A chunk of that was £1m to the UK’s Citizens Advice service, which I followed through on very soon after. Some of you may be interested to know what it chose to do with the money.

For full info on what happened to the rest, see my What happened to my £10m to charity? blog.

The donation to Citizens Advice was a very deliberate choice of mine for three reasons.   

1) I’ve been a long-term fan. I’ve constantly recommended those in debt crisis visit their local bureau and I know how many it helps.  
2) While I want to use much of the cash on bespoke projects, I wanted a tangible, large donation to be speedily working in the sector that helped make me successful.
3) I wanted to shame the Government over its funding cuts to the service. The Citizens Advice should not have to rely on private individuals donating. I’m glad this point got some coverage at the time.

I deliberately left Citizens Advice an open hand with what to do with the money, asking only that it be focused more on its work offering debt and financial help.

The following note is from Citizens Advice in England and Wales (some of the money went separately to Northern Ireland and Scotland) – it’s a project update on the use of the donation.

The project itself focuses on prevention just as much as cure – something I’ve been passionately campaigning on for a long time, so this is a great start. Within that, I was particularly delighted that the money was filtered down to individual bureau, who pitched internally for the cash.

I hope the pilot scheme the money is going to will be a success. Here’s the update on it…

The Integrated Money Advice model pilot

Funded by the Martin Lewis donation, a number of Citizens Advice bureaux have been chosen to run pilot projects to test key aspects of an Integrated Money Advice model. The model looks at every stage of the client process, from client entry to outcomes. 

In particular it will explore the client’s debt and financial capability situation, identifying the range of debt remedies open to them. The pilots will also be testing a ‘money-focused interview’, identifying areas in which the client needs more support and when to refer them to more in-depth financial capability support.

Which bureaux are involved?

  • York and District CAB
  • Halton District CAB
  • West Oxfordshire CAB
  • Staffordshire North CAB
  • Portsmouth CAB
  • Bedworth, Rugby and Nuneaton CAB (Brancab)
  • Redhill CAB
  • Harrow CAB
  • Cheshire West CAB
  • Boston CAB
  • North Warwickshire CAB
  • Torbay CAB
  • Tunbridge Wells and District CAB
  • Exeter CAB
  • Canolfan Cynghori Ynys Mon CAB
  • North Liverpool CAB.

What will the pilot be testing?

  • An assessment tool aimed at the client entry point in the model – this tool will explore the client’s debt situation and financial capability to identify the range of debt remedies open to them, whether they have any emergencies or need more help in understanding their financial situation before they access full debt advice. The tool also identifies the next steps for the client including early referrals and routing within the bureau.
  • A "money-focused interview" – this will integrate a limited amount of financial capability into the debt advice session, including identifying areas in which the client needs more support, promoting money management skills to them, looking at client motivation, quick wins and when to refer them to more in-depth financial capability support. It will also test the usefulness of the client information collected via the assessment tool that a future adviser would use when subsequently picking up the client’s case.

What are the project timescales?

  • The pilot will run from July 2013 to April 2014. The project will start with monitoring the outcomes of clients going through the existing service in each bureau up until October.
  • The two changes to the model will be implemented from October and will be monitored in the same way over a five month period.
  • A report on the findings of the pilot will be published on its completion.

How will the pilot benefit the service?

The key findings of the pilot will help the Citizens Advice service to develop their money advice services meeting more clients’ needs in the future.