20 Apr 2021 | Posted In Money advice news

Impact on Urban Health and the Centre for Responsible Credit have launched ‘Financial Shield’: a pilot scheme with a new approach to improve support for people with health and financial problems in Lambeth and Southwark, with the potential for national roll out.

The clear links between physical, mental and financial health is evidenced in a new report by Impact on Urban Health.  The report highlights the importance of trying new approaches and specifically mentions the Financial Shield. The report analyses the diversity of Lambeth and Southwark where nearly every other resident is from a Black, Asian, Mixed, Arab or other ethnic minority and health inequalities are clearly apparent. The report indicates that many residents’ health issues and problems with money exacerbate each other. It also shows that the pandemic has widened the health gap between those living in the most deprived and affluent communities.

Financial Shield is designed to drive improvements in people’s health trajectories, financial situation and debt repayment, and bring tangible cost savings to the NHS, through reduced use of NHS appointments and admissions. The pilot will include a cost benefit analysis to measure outcomes and an independent review to encourage a national roll-out.

Financial Shield will be tested with 2,000 people in Lambeth and Southwark through to September 2022. Funded by Impact on Urban Health and led by the Centre for Responsible Credit, the pilot brings together Primary Care Networks, social prescribing teams, creditors including both Lambeth and Southwark Councils, several Housing Associations (Southern Housing Group, Metropolitan Thames Valley, Hyde Group and Optivo Housing Association), Citizens Advice Southwark, AGE UK Lambeth, and potentially utility companies, to provide a holistic response to people’s financial and health support needs.

For the first time, Housing Associations and Local Councils will adopt a joint approach to debt collection when people with long-term health conditions are identified as in arrears with both rent and Council Tax.

Rather than compete for repayments, creditors will provide the time and space needed for social prescribing and advice agencies to get people ‘Back on Track’ – the name of the public facing brand for the project – with their finances.

Damon Gibbons, Centre for Responsible Credit, says:

“We want to create a new model that can be adopted widely, in other UK cities, to support groups at risk from long term health conditions, indebtedness, and the lingering impact of the pandemic to improve health outcomes at scale.”