A second What Works Fund

What Works Programme Lead Michaela Kirsop-Holdford discusses how the second What Works Fund will target the specific gaps in evidence which were not focused on previously.

At the Money Advice Service we believe that the right financial capability support can have a positive impact on peoples’ lives and we want to make sure that every penny that is spent on it makes a real difference.

But what is the right support?

The What Works programme is building and strengthening much-needed evidence of what works by testing potential solutions and evaluating FinCap interventions through working in partnership with others.

We want to know what works, for who, in what context and why. So, we launched the very first MAS What Works fund back in April 2016 and since then, we have invested over £10M to fund the evaluation of over 60 diverse projects across the UK.

We are expecting the majority of the individual project evaluation reports over the spring and summer this year and from there our evaluation learning partner (Ipsos Mori, Ecorys and PFRC University of Bristol) will synthesise and analyse these results to draw out key themes and learnings. We hope to have these findings in Autumn – we cannot wait!

The work is something we are all incredibly proud of and naturally we want the learnings to have an impact. Each of the organisations we are working with will have their own dissemination plans and we will complement this with a co-ordinated programme of communications to funders, practitioners and policy-makers.

This ground-breaking approach of finding out what works will span many years and each year we will learn a bit more, add to the evidence base, and step-by-step begin to build the picture of what works and – just as crucially – what doesn’t.

A Second What Works Fund

Our second round of funding will be quite different to the first, and is designed to target some of the gaps in evidence that were not examined through the original fund. The £3m is being allocated across five specific strands of work:

  • Building long term resilience: financial capability with debt advice: Finding out what good practice exists already and supporting the sharing and development of this.
  • Pilots from the Financial Capability Lab: In 2016, MAS partnered with the Behavioural Insights Team and Ipsos MORI to set up and run a Financial Capability Lab to generate and rapidly test a range of ideas and solutions to tackle financial capability challenges. From February we will be exploring working with potential partners to take forward the most promising results from the lab tests and piloting them in the real world.
  • The workplace/workforce: Evaluating both new and existing interventions to build our knowledge and understanding of what works through a channel that has huge potential.
  • FinTech: In September 2017, we launched our partnership with the Tech City UK Competition, “FinTech For All”. This showcased how innovation can contribute to help improve the financial capability of people in the UK. We will help assess the effectiveness of the two winning entries by developing and funding evaluations of them.
  • Partnerships that reach the squeezed segment: In line with our fundamental need to find out more about what works for the financially squeezed we will invite bids from not for profit sector who can demonstrate a proven mass reach to the squeezed. We are currently developing this strand and the call is likely to be in the spring.

Unlike the initial What Works Fund these strands will not be delivered solely through grant funding. However, there will of course be opportunities to apply. If you want to be kept up to date with these opportunities or if you have any questions about any of this do get in touch at [email protected]


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