Auriga Services comments on the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing

Mark Abrams, Chief Executive, said:

The strategy provides a solid basis for government, financial services and the third sector to collaborate to improve the financial wellbeing of the country. The charity and advice industry has a key role to play in helping people thrive, from providing high quality debt advice when they need it, to supplying services that closely match ­­their need.

We are very pleased that the strategy looks at broader themes like gender and mental health issues, both factors that can worsen financial difficulties; we look forward to playing our part in the delivery of MaPS’ targets and wider outcomes.

As well as providing money advice and support, a big priority for us in 2020 is to have a more active role in conversations around financial wellbeing. It seems absurd when you consider that the UK’s health and wellness industry is set to top £43bn in 2020, yet money – one of the main causes of anxiety in the UK – remains comparatively overlooked.

We’re hoping to challenge some of the misconceptions that can hold people back from confidently seeking appropriate financial support at an earlier stage. This includes thinking about issues such as:

  • Embarrassment about financial capability: the idea that other people know more or are better with their finances. The truth is that many people fall into debt since they feel their situation is unredeemable – rather than knowing that they can talk about their finances with a qualified adviser – the best solution.
  • When it comes to setting goals, you have to prove your independence. Many people feel they should be where their parents were at their age. Young adults feel under pressure to behave in a certain way, to make it look like they’re independent and financially responsible. The truth is, millions of hard-working young people are on low incomes – affordability problems mean they are priced out of the market. For young people struggling to be financially independent, money is a source of incredible anxiety; getting a basic budget on track can be a brilliant goal.
  • Spending is comforting, satisfying and empowering. Overspending is addictive – research shows the relationship between life satisfaction and consumption of material things is getting stronger. However, the destructive consequences can spread way beyond the individual to the family and household. Auriga specialise in budgeting, and our money and debt advisors spend extensive time supporting each individual with debt. We inspire people to be more financially self-aware, have more willpower, reduce material purchases and increase their household financial stability – and income – so that satisfaction comes with life as a whole.
  • Dependency culture is high in the UK, say accounts in the media. The truth is, neglecting the importance of maintaining people’s good financial wellbeing is damaging the UK economy; according to figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), approximately £12.4 billion of means-tested state benefits were unclaimed at the end of 2016. At the root of the problem is the widespread stigma attached to relying on benefits, but there are also millions of people who don’t even know they are entitled to anything, particularly if they are in work. Giving assistance, while being respectful, inclusive and empathetic – and lifting incomes – is at the heart of Auriga. We’re kicking back at the unease and the difficulty experienced when claiming benefits.
  • Energy-efficient habits are hard to adopt. Our energy advisors are dedicated to helping combat fuel poverty and provides one-to-one advice and support to people. If people are looking for ways to conserve energy around the house, it can be hard to even know where to begin – so our advisors cover many aspects of saving energy, and help households approach their new habits in a realistic and progressive way.

Challenging these myths links us to a common thread: for overall wellbeing, money should be viewed as just as important as more traditional areas of wellness, such as diet and exercise.

We provide high-quality money, debt and welfare advice – Auriga offer a mechanism for the MaPS financial wellbeing movement. There will always be an appropriate financial option for every person advised to manage debt, but our mission and our values are about leading people to towards a better quality of life by adopting healthy financial habits, to reduce the likelihood of over-indebtedness occurring.