When 40% of adults say they are not in control of their finances and a further four in ten have less than £500 in savings, it’s clear the UK is facing a financial capability crisis which requires a collective response. Smoking has a huge impact on people’s finances, including for many who say that they want to stop. That is why ASH Scotland is supporting Financial Capability Week (14-20 November 2016), and our Development Lead for Inequalities, Tracey Rogers, blogs for us about this:
The campaign is designed to highlight the work of organisations involved in financial capability and amplify their messages in order to achieve the large-scale change needed to tackle the stubbornly low level of financial capability in the UK today. Despite being in its first year, the campaign has the support of 300 organisations, including GEMAP Scotland, Children In Scotland, Citizens Advice and Rights Fife, Money Advice Scotland, Tradings Standards Scotland and North Lanarkshire Council.
To improve financial capability, policy makers and organisations working across a broad range of sectors need to work together. That’s why the Financial Capability Strategy was developed and based on collective impact – where there is a common vision for what needs to be achieved, building an understanding of what works. The Strategy will last for ten years and was launched in 2015. It aims to improve people’s ability to manage money well, both day to day and through significant life events, and to handle periods of financial difficulty. The Strategy is guided by the Financial Capability Board, made up of cross-sector experts and leaders.
Smoking is concentrated amongst disadvantaged groups, and on average giving up smoking saves around £1,600 per year. The evidence therefore is clear that a society free from tobacco will not just be healthier, but wealthier and fairer too. At a national level ASH Scotland has been working to address poverty by engaging with financial support services. We have worked with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to deliver a pilot exploring the feasibility of raising the issue of smoking in money advice settings so that quitting smoking is supported as a way of alleviating poverty and debt and a number of recommendations highlight what more financial support services can do in this area. We have also been encouraging saving with money no longer being spent on tobacco products using credit unions through our Cashtray initiative which West Lothian Credit Union has been supporting since March 2016.
ASH Scotland passionately supports improved financial capability for everyone in Scotland and is proud to be part of Financial Capability Week 2016. We hope that our supporters and partnerships through the Scot Coalition, Charter supporters, Scottish Tobacco Free Alliance and local Tobacco Control Alliances will consider joining us and helping to raise the profile of the excellent initiatives out there already promoting health and financial wellbeing, as well as highlighting the gaps that exist. ASH Scotland would be delighted to join forces with organisations such as Citizen Advice Bureaux, money advice services, and Housing Associations, Employability programmes, Welfare Rights and Foodbanks as well as local anti-poverty networks and we can help support more partnerships with local stop smoking services. By joining together under the Financial Capability Week campaign banner we can shine a spotlight on the stubbornly low level of financial capability in the UK, but also celebrate the excellent work being done to drive it up.