Partnership work between primary care and money advice services

Integrating money advice services into general practice is well established across Scotland with around 50 practices currently delivering this approach. Although 80 of the 100 Deep End general practices working in the most deprived areas of Scotland are located in Glasgow, this approach to providing money advice has never been fully tested in the city. 

Since 2013, we have worked alongside Deep End GP practices and others with the aim of building new links between advice services and primary care in Glasgow. The city faces the biggest local authority losses in Scotland as a result of the UK government’s welfare reforms, estimated at about £120 million by 2020/21 and equivalent to around 13% of the total reduction in welfare spending in Scotland. 

Our evaluation report has captured important learning from integrating three advice workers in nine GP practices across northeast Glasgow. Over 12 months, some of the key results included: 

  • GPs led the way in referring 654 people to advice services. Around seven out of 10 attended with many reporting no past contact with services. 
  • The nine GP practices achieved the equivalent of more than half of the 1,264 referrals under the existing model where healthcare staff can refer people to advice services located in seven health centres across northeast Glasgow.
  • Most people accepting advice were living below standard poverty measures. They were likely to be single women, older, unfit for work, and living in social housing.
  • Homeless and housing issues, followed by mental health were the main reasons people accepted onward support to other services.
  • There were around £1.5 million in advice gains with over half for disability-related benefits. Support to manage household debts totalled £470,000.
  • For every £1 invested, the project returning more than £25, a conservative estimate. 

The report findings supported a recent decision to provide funding in 2019-2020 to 16 GP practices across the city, which included those taking part in this study. This funding decision was supported by the Local Medical Committee alongside wider recognition that any longer term funding for advice services would need to be aligned with the city’s Primary Care Improvement Plan

Other past reports influenced this decision to fund advice services, in particular two Deep End reports (Report 25 and Report 27) that captured learning from two partnership events held between 2014 and 2015. Subsequently, partners from health and housing agreed to place an advice worker in two GP practices in northeast Glasgow. This led to impressive money advice outcomes. 

An evaluation of the two practices showed that many on low income reported no past contact with advice services. Over six months, 165 people received financial gains totalling £850,000 with disability-related benefits accounting for two thirds of the gains. The positive results encouraged the local Health and Social Care Partnership to seek more funding to extend the approach across nine practices that took part in a subsequent study

The learning gained over the last six years to build new primary care links in Glasgow could help support future partnership delivery of advice services, the ongoing roll-out of Community Link Workers across the city, and work being carried out by the new Scottish Social Security Agency’s local delivery teams. 

Other publications

Additional reports published over the last six years include:

Related topic: Healthy communities