Financial wellbeing in the West Midlands
Around 90% of working people in the West Midlands live and work in the local economy, so looking after people’s financial wellbeing is good for business. Our regional partnership manager Dawn Cummins explores how the Money and Pensions Service can help your organisation to do just that.
The West Midlands is a large and diverse region with a rich manufacturing history and much to be proud of economically. Outside of London, the region ranks number one in the UK for exports, job creation and foreign business investment. It is also home to some of the biggest and strategically important businesses in the UK, including Jaguar Land Rover, Cadbury, Bosch and JCB.
Advanced manufacturing and engineering are at the heart of the current economic boom, with creative industries and life sciences fast growing sectors that have the potential to drive further growth and increase skills and productivity in the workforce.
What is financial wellbeing?
The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) can help employers to grow the financial wellbeing of your workforce. We have been set up by government to provide free and impartial money and pensions guidance, and supporting employers and employees is a key strand of our approach to help people to make the most of their money and feel financially secure.
Financial wellbeing is about feeling secure and in control. It is about making the most of your money day to day, dealing with the unexpected, and being on track for a healthy financial future. In short: financially resilient, confident and empowered.
Support your employees and customers: Embed our free money guides and tools on your website or intranet.
Financial challenges in the West Midlands
Despite significant growth, investment and an increase in jobs, many people still find it a struggle to meet ends meet.
Challenges in the region include:
- the second highest level of unemployment benefit claimants in England, with young people disproportionately affected (Department for Work and Pensions, December 2020)
- a decrease of 74,000 jobs in the year to June 2020 (Birmingham Economic Review, 2020)
- over a third of areas in the West Midlands listed among the most deprived in the country (West Midlands Regional Economic Development Institute Partnership (WMREDI), 2020)
- an increase in the number of people with no qualifications to 11% (WMREDI, 2020)
- resident wages below the national average. (WMREDI, 2020)
Impact of coronavirus on the West Midlands economy
During the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the West Midlands was the worst hit area of the UK economically according to the Office for National Statistics. During the second quarter of 2020, the region recorded a 21% drop in output compared to an 18.8% fall in GDP country-wide. This was on top of the biggest regional fall of 4.7% in the first three months of the year. Add to this the joint highest take up rate of the Job Retention Scheme (furlough) in England, and an 89% increase in young benefit claimants, and you start to paint a picture of a fractured economy.
At the Money and Pensions Service we can provide communities and businesses with the tools and information they need to support financial wellbeing at this difficult time. Our Coronavirus Hub pulls together tools, articles and resources on a range of financial issues, including our Money Navigator Tool, built specifically to support people with money worries during the pandemic.
How MaPS can help your organisation
MaPS was established by the government to power up financial wellbeing in every region and nation of the UK. We offer a wide array of free support to organisations and businesses, including:
- a dedicated partnership manager based in the region, to offer bespoke support
- a selection of money guides in print, Braille or audio formats, free to businesses
- a Coronavirus Hub including a range of articles, tools and calculators to support your colleagues and customers
- redundancy guides and related pensions support
- pensions guidance to help plan for retirement and later life
- access to debt advice to support people in financial difficulty
- our annual awareness campaign, Talk Money Week, which reaches millions of people each year and provides a platform to have a conversation about money in any walk of life.
Dawn is regional partnerships manager for the West Midlands. She has extensive experience of working with stakeholders and partnerships across a range of sectors. Contact Dawn to get support for your organisation at firstname.lastname@example.org.