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Financial Fab Four Information and Links

Sandwell Citizens Advice and Better Off Sandwell have pulled together information from Alison Tsang, Capital Mass and Cassius Francis, Just Finance Black Country from their Webinar on Coronavirus: Helping People in a time of financial crisis.

To help with your financial wellbeing they have complied a list of their fab four links and  information under the headings of:

  1. Talk About Money
  2. Make A Budget
  3. Check Your Policies
  4. Speak To Creditors

To read the full list of information and links click here.


Launch of Employers Payroll Savings Pledge Event

A ground breaking partnership has been formed to bring together businesses and credit unions, to build financial resilience for employees across the Black Country.

The partnership involves the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, the England Illegal Money Lending Team, Just Finance Black Country, along with the four local credit unions, working together to promote Payroll Savings.

You are invited join the Partnership at the launch of the Employer’s Payroll Savings Campaign. The event is on Wednesday, 29 April 2020, 2 – 4 pm at St Matthew’s Church, Saint Matthew’s Close, Walsall WS1 3DG.

The day will see the Partners sign a pledge to help promote credit unions to local employers. The outcomes and contacts from the launch will be used to develop an action plan, which stakeholders and attendees have made, to contribute to the promotion of the payroll savings scheme across the Black Country.

Register for your free place on this event via Eventbrite.

For further details on pay roll savings click here.

Quality and Transparency has Fallen in Charity Accounts

The Charity Commission’s recent review of charity accounts has found that just over half of charities are meeting the public benefit reporting requirements.

Just 70% of trustees’ annual reports and accounts in the public reporting review met the basic benchmark of user requirements.

The quality benchmark was based on recent research into trust in charities which found that ‘ensuring a reasonable proportion of donations make it to the end cause’ and ‘making a positive difference to the cause they work for’ were the most important factors for public trust and confidence in charities.

The main reasons why charities’ accounts submissions did not meet the basic benchmark were:

  • failure to evidence that accounts had been subject to independent scrutiny by an auditor or independent examiner, as required by law
  • not providing meaningful information about their charity’s purposes or the activities carried out to achieve those purposes

Also, just 52% of trustees’ annual reports in the public benefit reporting review met the public benefit reporting requirements.

Trustees are falling short on the requirements to explain activities carried out by the charity to further its purposes for the public benefit, and to provide a public benefit statement.

It is important that you explain the activities your charity undertakes and the impact you have. We want to see charity thrive, so charities must be clearer about who they help and what difference they are making.

Source: Charity Commission Newsletter Issue 62

6Towns Credit Union drop-in

Did you know when you drop in at 6Towns Credit Union you can:

• Open new accounts
• Apply for Loans
• Apply for a Pre-paid Engage card
• Set up standing orders
• Get general information

Go along and speak with a member of the team about the services of 6Towns Credit Union, located on the Ground Floor, Court House, High Street, West Bromwich (next to the Register Office).

Opening Times: Monday to Friday

Mornings 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Afternoons 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm

There is an alternative to Brighthouse

As Christmas approaches, many will be tempted to buy items using high-interest providers such as Brighthouse. This has a negative impact on families many of whom are often on low incomes.

In an attempt to persuade people to find cheaper alternatives 6Towns Credit Union has an arrangement with a not-for-profit household supplier called Homekind. Homekind offer a full range of household items from an Xbox to a washing machine and sofa to a bed.

Homekind website:
Online Catalogue:

Over recent weeks 6Towns Credit Union has posted products from Homekind on both Facebook and Twitter.   Interest in this service has increased, as have the number of people applying for loans for household goods.  Six Towns Credit Union would like your help in raising awareness of an alternative to Brighthouse.  The benefit of the service is the substantial savings that can be made.

If you wish to know more please contact or call 0121 553 3110.

Brighthouse require evidence of contents insurance and actively promote their own ‘insurance’, which cost an additional £1.95 plus interest at APR 99.9%

Charity Commission warns of insider fraud threats

  • The Charity Commission has issued an alert from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), highlighting the insider threat from fraudsters and cyber criminals.

The alert identifies that over 50% of organisations have suffered an insider threat attack in the previous year. Insider fraud is committed by someone involved within your charity, whether a trustee, an employee or volunteer. The Commission warns that charities are as vulnerable to insider threats as the private or public sector.

NFIB warns that insider fraud poses a greater threat than external fraud due to knowledge of sensitive information and access to an organisation’s systems and inner workings. You can read more on this story here, and you can find the Charity Commission’s guidance to protecting your organisation from fraud here.



Just Finance Summit – Walsall Event

Just Finance Foundation works locally and nationally through churches and other community groups, to increase the supply of fair and affordable finance and to empower poor and low-income consumers by building their financial capability.

The summit, on 31st May 2018, seeks to achieve the following:

• To celebrate and promote the good work of organisations and individuals across the Black Country
• To map financial exclusion, identify who is affected and consider priority groups;
• To define what inclusion for these groups entails, what improvements could be made – over 3, 5 and 10yrs;
• To consider the causes and how they could be addressed, what’s already being done;
• To identify key actors, partnerships and who’s missing, also assets and barriers and how these could be addressed to make progress over the first three years.

• Financial service providers, from banks and the Post Office, to community finance organisations, the rent to own sector, pay day lenders, ATM providers;
• Money advice and support agencies;
• Other essential service providers whose clients are excluded or at risk of exclusion e.g. health, housing, family etc. in the private, public or third sectors;
• Community change agents – churches and faith groups, resident and community interest groups;
• Intermediaries who influence the conditions for financial services and their access e.g. local authorities, town planners, regulators, investors, politicians, financial inclusion teams/strategy officers in banks, policy makers and parliamentary groups.

Attendance is by FREE ticket ONLY – you can book your place here.

Financial Governance: A Gentle Guide for The Non-Financial Charity Trustee

The guide aims to help trustees understand — in a simple and practical manner — what is expected of them when it comes to the governance of their charity’s finances. The vast majority of trustees ensure their organisations are effective and well-run, despite the many challenges they face. Trusteeship is a voluntary role. Yet the case for good governance in charities led by trustees that have a proper understanding of their role has never been clearer.

Dorothy Dalton is a leading expert on governance who has written several books on the subject. She has previously held positions as chief executive of ACEVO and editor of Governance: essential information for effective trustees and has been a trustee of many charities, including Marie Curie.

Exemplary governance has become an expectation rather than an aspiration, the rationale being that it is fundamental to effective charitable activity alongside strong leadership. Mark Goyder (Director of Tomorrow’s Company) highlighted the necessity of both aspects in organisations seeking to maximise their impact when he said: “Governance and leadership are the yin and the yang of successful organisations. If you have leadership without governance you risk tyranny, fraud and personal fiefdoms. If you have governance without leadership you risk atrophy, bureaucracy and indifference.”

Governance is a subject close to our hearts at Rathbones. We are a member of the FTSE4Good Index Series which only includes companies that demonstrate strong environmental, social and governance credentials. Separately, as a signatory to the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, we are obliged to consider corporate governance in deciding whether or not we should invest in a company on behalf of our clients. In addition, around 3,000 trustees have participated in our dedicated trustee education programme over the past 10 years, our ultimate aim being to help them perform their roles more effectively.

Vicky Browning, CEO of ACEVO, noted: “This guide is designed as a first and gentle introduction to charity finances, aimed at trustees who haven’t had experience of this area before. By giving it to new or less experienced trustees and even experienced trustees who lack confidence when it comes to financial governance, you can steer them towards the areas where they should have informed oversight, and give them the confidence to know they’re asking the right questions to meet their duties.”

“The key to good financial (and any other) governance depends on the trustees understanding their role and duties… We welcome this new piece of guidance as it sets out clearly the things trustees will need to know when looking at investing their charity’s funds and is a useful addition to the resources available to the charitable sector.”

Sarah Atkinson, Director, Policy and Communications, Charity Commission

View the Financial-governance-guide_Dorothy-Dalton_Rathbones_ACEVO_interactive_final_May-2017 here or email to request a printed copy.

Source: Rathbones Look Forward

‘Extra Help’ Services for South Staffs Water Customers

Tell us what you do
South Staffs Water has a range of extra help services available for our customers; one example is the Assure tariff, a new easy way for eligible customers to reduce their water charges by up to 80%.

Assure can help customers on low incomes, or struggling to pay their water charges by making bills more affordable.  Customers with an annual household income of less than £16,105 (excluding income from Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments and Attendance Allowance) may qualify for a discount of 20%, 40%, 60% or 80% on their water bill.  We’ll also arrange for the discount to be applied to sewerage charges.

Application forms are available on our website or call 0800 0930570, and we’ll arrange to send one in the post.  If customers have difficulties filling in the form, we can arrange for a Home Visit Officer to visit and help fill in the form.

South Staffs Water works with a variety of organisations in order to raise awareness of Assure in the communities.

What is your proudest achievement?
Assure is a new scheme and it’s helped over 6200 people obtain a discount on their water charges since it started, and over 13000 customers are receiving extra help services.

We’re really proud of our Home Visit Service designed to help customers who may have difficulty filling in forms.  We’ve also been able to help customers in other areas, one example being whilst the application for Assure was being completed the Home Visit Officer noticed that the customer was still paying for a TV licence despite being of an age not to.  The Home Visit Officer helped the customer contact TV Licensing and received a backdated refund amounting to over £700.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO?
South Staffs Water has attended a breakfast meeting, and this was a great way to meet local organisations and share experiences.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
Sandwell is a very proud and diverse community, sharing a wide range of languages, cultures and ideas; but with a passion and motivation to help others.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
South Staffs Water want to continue working with communities to find those people who would benefit from their extra services and to keep re-evaluating what ‘s working and what can be improved.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
By signposting organisations and individuals to the extra help services including Assure.

For more information about Assure, for leaflets or presentation to your organisation please contact Amanda at South Staffs Water

Fraud costs people in the UK around £10.9 billion every year.

In the first of a series of articles we explain some of the common scams to look out for and some tips for staying safe. (Information provided by Santander)

Telephone Scams

Requests to transfer funds:
• This involves a fraudster calling you and posing as your bank or another organisation. The number they’re calling from may be ‘spoofed’ to make it look like it’s from your bank or another legitimate organisation.
• They tell you that you’re at risk of fraudulent activity and must transfer your funds into a ‘safe account’.
• You will often be pressured to act immediately.
• This ‘safe account’ is actually the fraudster’s account, so your money is sent directly to the fraudster.

Look out for the second instalment next week.

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