Money Smart Work Wise

Providing the skills and tools people need to manage their finances

The Matthew Tree Project support model is all about doing more for less. 

At a time of severely reducing funding of essential services for vulnerable people such as help and support with budgeting, debt management, pathways into adult education courses, coping with the introduction of Universal Credit and other welfare changes, and help finding pathways into work (offering fair conditions and good rates of pay) the challenge facing the whole sector is how to continue to provide these absolutely essential services.

Our support model relies on funding for one qualified and paid Advise Facilitator who works through a team of ten volunteers who are trained and supervised by the Advise Facilitator. 

The Matthew Tree Project support over 1000 clients each year, who are referred to us for being in severe financial hardship.  All clients are referred by 90 diverse organisations and agencies in Bristol and South Gloucestershire and of these 1000 ‘at risk’ people 65% complete an income/expenditure form and submit bank statements. 

Money Smart is designed to replace the basic household budget and debt management guidance service we already provide although this will still be part of the service on offer upgraded to advice rather than just guidance.  

In terms of money and debt management, our main focus is upon helping clients to make the financial transition from reliance upon welfare benefits into employment, quite possibly into low paid or part-time work initially subsidised by welfare benefits, and from there into sustainable employment that provides financial independence.  This journey will involve enabling clients to objectively estimate the financial impact that taking a job will have on their overall financial position. This can be exceptionally complex and we believe the vast majority of people who find themselves in this position would benefit significantly from having support through this transition.

In regard to complementing the Work Wise programme, Money Smart aims to ensure that clients have in place the standard provisions that employers’ expect of new recruits e.g. a bank current account or similar into which to pay their salary.  For example, we are seeking to work in partnership with Bristol Credit Union who are about to launch a savings account that is ring fenced to meet monthly bill payments, and we would like offer our clients banking and savings guidance in this regard. And for clients who are ineligible to open bank accounts we propose offering hands on training in using alternative options, such as Pay Point terminals to manage bill payments and cash receipts and cash accounts.