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West Kent is playing a vital part in a nationwide search to find the best way to help people make the best use of their money.

A research project we devised has been chosen as one of 26 that will receive funding from the £7m What Works programme.

More than 400 organisations expressed an interest in taking part in the project, run by the Money Advice Service (MAS) – and our innovative proposal to work with 16 to 24 year-olds was one of the successful few.

The £90,000 grant will allow us to work with Canterbury Christ Church University to explore how good money management advice can help apprentices and trainees make better financial decisions, including those relating to their job prospects.

“We will work with three groups of young adults who are starting work or an apprenticeship or receiving training, and give them financial advice in different ways over eight weeks,” explained Claire Griffiths, West Kent’s interim Head of Communities.

“One group will be given access to online training on money matters, one will be given added personal support and the third group will not receive any advice on how to handle their cash.

“We will then assess their skills to see which group emerges with the best understanding of how to run their finances – and repeat the exercise with three more batches of young people to give us an impressive amount of data by the end of the project.”

“We know that many young people have no idea how to budget, quickly get into debt and then struggle to get back on their feet. This project aims to see what kind of help has the biggest impact so that it can then be used elsewhere.”

What Works

The What Works programme was set up to tackle the fact that four out of ten adults in this country are not in control of their finances, while almost 17 million people have less than £100 in savings.

The MAS realised that while the problem was clear, the answer was less so. At the launch of What Works, it pointed out that there was little evidence about the best way to address the issue, adding: “The fund aims to build this evidence and establish the best way to help people manage their money.”

The idea is to scale up the most effective projects to improve the levels of financial capability of millions of people across the UK. The project funding runs until March 2018, when the results will be evaluated.

As Caroline Rookes, Chief Executive for the Money Advice Service, explained: “The insights from these projects will be vital, helping organisations channel their efforts in the right places and fund and deliver interventions that we know make a real difference.”

We are looking for volunteers aged 16 to 24, living in Sevenoaks, Maidstone or the Medway towns, who have left school, are starting to live independently and would like to join the trial.  Contact Claire Griffiths, Head of Communities, at getinvolved@wkha.org.uk or by calling 01732 749437 to get involved.

The Money Advice Service is an independent organisation. It gives free, unbiased money guidance at moneyadviceservice.org.uk or via free phone on 0800 1387777.

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