Children in low-income families have an increased risk of poor health. Increasing family income is known to improve children’s health. Services to help families claim benefits they are entitled to and address problem debts are one way to increase family income (‘income maximisation’). However, little is known about whether income maximisation improves parent-child relations and child health and well-being.
Plymouth City Council is funding Citizens Advice Plymouth (CAP) to tailor existing income maximisation services to families. We will work with CAP advisors and clients to adapt the service. We will interview selected parent/carer clients of the adapted service, asking them what they like/dislike about it, how it could be improved, and if/how it has affected their income, health, parent-child relations and children (e.g., health, behaviour, education). We will explore the usefulness of CAP data for evaluating the service, and share all our learning with service providers, commissioners and funders.
The aim of the evaluation is to explore the potential of income maximisation for families in Plymouth.
Specific objectives are to:
1. Build on existing good practice locally to co-produce an adapted income maximisation service targeting families
2. Implement the service in selected communities in Plymouth
3. Explore the feasibility of using routine Citizens Advice service data for monitoring implementation and impact
4. Obtain clients’ views of (i) the service (e.g., acceptability, factors enabling or hindering engagement) and (ii) if/how it helped them (e.g., income, financial stress, parent-child relations, child outcomes, associated risk and protective factors)
5. Share learning with service providers and other stakeholders interested in the project to build local service capacity and inform future research
1. Facilitate co-production sessions involving current income maximisation service providers and users and draw on these to produce a logic model and service plan for an adapted service for families
2. Review routine Citizens Advice Plymouth service delivery data and consider its suitability (with possible modification) for evaluating the implementation and impact of the new income maximisation service
3. Interview clients of the new income maximisation service to understand (i) barriers to and facilitators of their engagement in the service and (ii) the impact of support received on family finances, parent/carer well-being, parent-child relations and child health and well-being outcomes
Outputs & impact
1. Share evaluation findings with providers and other stakeholders at a final project workshop and give service clients who were interviewed a plain English summary of findings
2. Produce a case study report to be shown on the Plymouth City Council and University of Plymouth websites
3. Submit an article containing study method and findings to a peer-reviewed journal
4. Give an oral or poster presentation about the study at one or more conferences
Subject to project findings, we will work with stakeholders in the project to develop plans for implementing the income maximisation service more widely (in and beyond Plymouth) and approach funders for larger studies of the implementation and effectiveness of income maximisation for families.
- Citizens Advice Plymouth
- Lucy Cartwright, University of Plymouth