Financial Inclusion in the Community - Big Lottery Fund Evaluation 2017
‘Partnership has been essential to our growth’
Scotcash started back in 2007 with a mission to help excluded communities to access affordable credit and other financial products they need to improve their financial circumstances. Over the last 10 years, we have stuck to that mission, and found new ways to deliver it more effectively. There’s still a long way to go, but in the last 10 years we have gone from being a small social enterprise with no customers to providing over 18,000 affordable loans, from a team of 4 to a team of over 20, and from one office to five. Along the way, the partnership of key investors like Big Lottery Fund (BLF) Scotland has been essential to this growth.
Since 2013 Scotcash has been supported by the BLF to expand our award winning services to local communities across Glasgow in a number of new locations in the city. Our ‘Financial Inclusion in the Community’ Programme was the start of our new approach to engaging at a local level with the people who need our services most and allowed us to test models that we thought would work best. At the core of this expansion was the focus on partnerships and collaboration, ensuring that when excluded households engaged with service providers, there was a clear and effective referral mechanism to Scotcash. These service providers ranged from local authorities, housing providers, Job Centres, advice centres and credit unions, all of which have a keen interest in improving the financial circumstances of their customers.
Over the 4 years of the BLF project, we built on our track record of collaboration and we began to really understand what a local presence could bring in terms of raising awareness of financial exclusion and the solutions available. And so the rationale for us to incorporate new ways of working became stronger, as a way of driving new customer engagement channels and becoming a sustainable social enterprise that could weather the economic challenges ahead. Through an independent evaluation of the project, we have been able to demonstrate that we have an effective and life changing model that over the next 10 years will create a ripple effect on our most disadvantaged communities.
The Big Lottery Fund Scotland has without a doubt stimulated the market and made a real difference to our own growth. With an investment of £1m in 2013, Scotcash has saved customers almost half that value in like for like interest payments had they gone to a high-cost commercial lender. But that is only part of the story; Scotcash customers have absorbed key messages about affordability, reduced their reliance on credit, improved their financial resilience and now have greater access and choice regarding the financial products and services they wish to use and which they feel will help them most in improving their financial situation.
Whilst Scotland’s economic prospects look positive in the short term, it is more important now than ever we prepare for the challenges ahead, and ensure all of our citizens are able to flourish and prosper. The Scotcash experience demonstrates we have a proven and successful model that can make a valuable contribution towards improving the financial wellbeing of our most disadvantaged communities.
You can read the full evaluation report here.
If you want to find out more information about Scotcash, or the Big Lottery Fund Project Report, contact us.