Responsible Community Finance Research and Impact Programme
Over the past eighteen months, through rapid team creation and development, the innovative Responsible Community Finance Research and Impact Programme in CBiS has brought together and delivered a set of five simultaneously awarded but independent impact-led projects.
Working beyond individual projects, a ‘research programme’ designed to build financially resilient and sustainable UK communities has been created, delivering enhanced value within impact communities including students, community, policy-makers and practitioners.
Responsible Community Finance has been led by Professor Nick Henry, Professor Sally Dibb and Dr Lindsey Appleyard, supported by an integrated team of highly motivated CBiS researchers, PGRs and research support.
These impact projects were co-produced with key community stakeholders, to achieve maximum impacts throughout and beyond project lifetimes. Such an approach enhances impact, but adds delivery complexity. Given the multiple project wins, complexity, the need for skilled sustained capacity at speed, and the potential of critical mass and synergies, a number of actions were taken to create a ‘research programme’:
- Joint funding of two Research Associates across these projects and the career development of PGRs to support delivery;
- Joint project team meetings to coordinate, communicate, and plan capacity and capability across the five project work programmes;
- Joint output activity: paper writing, reports, social media, academic/practitioner conferences, a CBiS stakeholder conference (June 2018), advocacy meetings, consultation responses.
The team has worked collaboratively in each project with key stakeholders to co-produce the bids, undertake the research and drive impact. The creation of materials that that can be used for teaching and learning resources or for research outputs has maximised impact.
The Responsible Community Finance team has created impact within internal Coventry University communities, such as:
- Developing the research training, transferable employment skills and experience of CBiS Doctoral students and early career researchers, through a range of programme and project activities, working alongside more experienced team members and research leaders;
- Financial capability training of CU Coventry (College) students and provision of associated learning materials.
The Programme has made a considerable impact externally. It will now form a REF2021 Impact Case Study, given that it has supported and created positive outcomes for financially marginalised communities by:
- Enhancing the affordable, responsible finance sector;
- Promoting individual financial wellbeing.
- Enhancing the affordable, responsible finance sector
Each research project has been co-designed to undertake research key to stakeholder issues (payday lending, ethical alternatives, financial literacy, etc.) and to support sectoral, practitioner and service change. Examples include:
- AHRC Impact Project: Two documents are available to UK Credit Unions at the ABCUL Credit Union Trade Association website. Two leading experts from Australia were hosted to share lessons on improving levels of lending responsibility. HM Treasury and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) were triggered by the project to visit these experts in Australia.
- Oak Foundation Project: research reports on ‘scaling affordable finance’ supply to marginalised communities are available at sector trade body Responsible Finance, see http://responsiblefinance.org.uk/policy-research/publications/. For part of their communications and advocacy strategy, see http://responsiblefinance.org.uk/2018/02/responsible-finance-calls-for-credit-reference-agencies-to-do-more-to-support-financial-inclusion/. These reports have directly resulted in invitations to meet with HM Treasury Consumer Credit Unit (April 2018) and to present at the prestigious Responsible Finance Annual Conference (March ’18) and the Centre for Responsible Credit Annual Conference (CfRC, April ’18).
- Barrow Cadbury Trust/Carnegie UK Trust: Interim findings presented at CFrC due to high level interest in this research on the impact of regulation of payday loans and financial inclusion. Joint report London launch in July 2018.
- Conference presentations delivered alongside the launch of the End High-Cost Credit Alliance founded by actor Michael Sheen, who attended both conferences. See http://responsiblefinance.org.uk/2018/03/michael-sheens-speech-at-responsible-finance-2018/. Some CU project materials are hosted under Resources at https://the-alliance.org.uk/.
- Promoting individual financial wellbeing
- In the Money Advice Service funded ‘What Works?’ project, the team collaborated with the Open University and with the Social Publishing Project http://www.socialpublishingproject.com/, Community Action:MK https://communityactionmk.org/2017/11/21/our-work-community-connectors-help-improve-financial-wellbeing/, Swan Credit Union in Milton Keynes, CU Coventry, Coventry and East District and New Central Credit Unions in Coventry.
Through this partnering, these organisations were helped to understand and engage with their members/clients/students to deliver tailored financial capability programmes to ‘financially squeezed’ individuals. The materials were delivered in different formats: in print; on a one-to-one basis; via housing associations; through workshops; and via an online MOOC. Those participating reported improvements to their financial capabilities, in some cases using their learning to help family and friends with their finances.
This has been a cutting-edge programme designed to build financially resilient and sustainable communities, based on a portfolio of inter-linked work which has placed CBiS visibly on the responsible personal finance map.
The CBiS Team
The CBiS Team included Dr Lindsey Appleyard (Research Fellow, Project PI), Dr Hussan Aslam (Research Assistant), Dr Elizabeth Bos (Senior Research Assistant), Dr Sara Degli Esposti (Research Fellow), Professor Sally Dibb (Project PI), Professor Nick Henry (Project PI), Dr Andrew Jones (Research Assistant), Jordon Lazell (Research Assistant), Dr Alessandro Merendino (Research Assistant), Dr John Morris (Research Assistant), Dr Helen Roby (Research Fellow) and Dr Yun Luo (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow). Ably supported by CBiS Doctoral students Huma Asif, Rebecca Beech, Claire Brewis, Ryan Bushell, Isabel Galvis, Duncan Greaves and Sanne Velthuis.