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Youth housing scheme “dismantling root causes of poverty”, says Lord Bird

Our newly expanded money skills programme for vulnerable young people is helping to ‘dismantle the root causes of poverty’, according to the campaigner and Big Issue Founder Lord Bird.

Hundreds of 16-25-year olds across London are being mandated by councils to attend our specialist financial capability programme, The Money House, before they can bid for social housing.

Based in real flats, it gives young people leaving the care system or in sheltered housing, the financial, digital and employability skills to survive and move into independent living.

Speaking at the Westminster showcase of the scheme, the Big Issue founder urged more local authorities to embrace the award-winning project, which is taking referrals on a continuous basis.

Over five days experts help would-be tenants tackle rent, bills, budgeting, and living costs to make informed choices about their future and challenge their attitudes and behaviours towards things like debt. It also hosts staff from local banks and job centres to help them navigate the system.

After The Money House:

  • Attendees are three times less likely to have rent arrears than their peers.
  • No one who has completed it has ever been evicted.
  • Landlords have reduced costs and secured more rent with fewer arrears.

Originally based in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, it has expanded to Newham, where one in 25 people are homeless, according to Shelter.

Last year, Centrepoint discovered that one in five young people, homeless or at risk of being homeless, was refused help by UK councils. For those leaving the care system, there is a one in three chance of losing their first home within the first two years.

The Money House is supported by the Berkeley Foundation, Hyde Charitable Trust and JPMorgan Chase Foundation. In 2016 it won The Guardian’s Public Service Award for Housing.

The launch coincides with the Money Advice Service’s Financial Capability Week.

Lord Bird said:
“At The Big Issue, we are on a mission to dismantle the root causes of poverty by offering a hand up not a hand out, so I applaud MyBnk for all their efforts. I hope that more councils will embrace the initiative, so that even more young people will be equipped with the skills needed to survive and prevent homelessness and debt.”

Kirsty Bowman-Vaughan, Young People Policy Manager, Money Advice Service said:
“Help is still patchy, and often crisis focused – many young people feel they have to be at rock bottom before anyone will help them. It shouldn’t have to be like this – and thankfully it isn’t always. That’s why support and services like The Money House are so important.”

Guy Rigden, CEO, MyBnk said:
“Being able to manage your money and budget a household could be the difference between independence and the streets. If you work with young people who could benefit from The Money House, please refer them immediately. After the project, participants are three times less likely to have rent arrears than their peers, no one who has completed it has ever been evicted, and landlords have reduced costs and secure more rent with fewer arrears”.

Channel, 19, The Money House attendee, single mother, went from sheltered housing to her own flat:
“I have learnt so much. If this was a lesson at school, I would not miss it. What I learnt was so informative and the trainers are not like teachers telling you what to do, they share stories and they helped me understand. I’ve learnt about pay, online safety, small print and how to separate my needs and wants I would highly recommend this. I’ve two friends, who are also pregnant, and I’m getting them on this course!”

Rob Perrins, Chairman of the Berkeley Foundation said:
“Everyone has to make choices about money, and for young people who don’t have a support network to lean on, it can feel like a minefield. So I think we need a Money House in every London Borough and in every city across Britain. It’s about helping young care leavers find their feet in society.”

Hang Ho, Head of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation for EMEA:
“If young people can better acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and tools required to understand their finances, it will increase their economic stability and build the foundation for a better future. MyBnk aims to help at the critical point when these young people are thrust into financial independence. It’s a crucial transition and we’re passionate about laying the groundwork for a more certain financial future for these young people.”

Hyde Group Chief Executive, Elaine Bailey:
“Hyde are incredibly proud to have been involved in the set-up of The Money House and are pleased to be able to continue to support the excellent work of this project preparing vulnerable young people for living independently and building their financial resilience. Making sure that people have the skills that they need to be successful in managing their tenancy is a really important outcome for the housing sector.”

Photos Credit: Simon Winson, Berkeley Group.

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