The average household debt in Scotland is just under £13,000 and people are experiencing rapid declines in their budget surplus with as little as £7 left over after monthly bills and debts are paid." Step Change UK debt charity

The issues that surround household debt - for example living in fuel poverty, occupying a damp home and the stress of being unable to pay bills - affect the health and wellbeing of people and whole communities across Scotland.

A grant from the ihub’s Improvement Fund has supported a project in North East Glasgow to provide money advice to patients in GP practices. This funding has enabled the project to expand to a further seven locations to support individual money and debt issues in those local communities.

The project initially began in two GP practices which serve deprived populations, comprising 7,903 patients between them. Throughout the initial pilot phase of the project, money advice workers placed in the practices saw 276 referrals in total from GPs, which included high percentages of patients with mental health conditions, long term health conditions and social housing issues.

Read below an update from the North East Glasgow Money Advice team on the progress of their project and the impact they have made so far.

“The improvement fund grant has allowed us to develop a project to embed Money Advice workers within nine GP practices for half a day per week each in North East Glasgow. The model supports health professionals, following discussions with patients, to make a money advice referral to the Advisor. The Advisor is then able to meet with the patients and support them with issues relating to money and debt.

Our practices cover some of the most deprived communities in Scotland. We initially developed the model in two practices in Parkhead Health Centre but ihub funding has allowed us to expand to a further seven practices to test the model on a larger scale.

We have been busy embedding Advisors and supporting practices to implement the model in ways which fit with their own individual circumstances and ways of operating.

We have been able to achieve this faster than originally anticipated, and by the end of October 2017, GP practices had made 372 money advice referrals. This has resulted in patient financial gains of £374,000 and the creation of management plans for £117,000 debt, including nearly £28,000 of council tax.

The project has been really well received by patients and GP practices. Advisors are reporting good relationships with practices and by being embedded within practices feel better able to support their clients with applications.”

-North East Glasgow Money Advice project team

Initial feedback and results from this project indicate that this new approach to debt management support has the potential to support the reconfiguration of NHS and partner funded advice services across NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde. All data and evidence gathered from the service engagement will be shared with a range of key stakeholders, including all Deep End practices, the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership Financial Inclusion and Equalities Leads, the GP Clinical Lead, Wheatley Group Head of Inclusion and Glasgow City Council’s Head of Financial Inclusion Services.

Learning from the project will also be shared locally in the North East, at a Glasgow City level, and at a regional and national level with support of the ihub.