An exciting new project aimed at inspiring people to start saving money again, has been launched by Durham County Council. The Council has appointed Paul Atkinson to work with businesses and schools to help promote a savings culture. The project aims to make it easy for businesses in Durham to offer employees a simple method of saving directly from their pay, with the flexibility of online access and additional help and support if required. Research shows that being more in control of our finances generally leads to better health and wellbeing, in other words happier, more productive staff. The project is part of a wider County Council strategy aimed at tackling in-work poverty, and promoting the use of the Credit Union.

Our research has found that over 70% of working families in County Durham are worried about their finances with many becoming reliant on high cost, short term credit. This is costing our local economy an estimated £5m a year. Schools The project aims to get every school in the South of Durham
involved. Secondary schools can play an important role in helping to prepare children to manage money, but primary schools, where children are often learning about money for the first time, can have the most influence.

Paul added “when children learn about both the positive and negative aspects of money, understand the concept of debt, and see the benefits saving, many will take those ideas and experiences into adult life, so the outcomes can be very positive for them and the community” Contact Businesses and schools can contact Paul directly to discuss the process of delivering the scheme, his email address is Support/Funding The project is funded by the County Council and Area Action Partnerships that include GAMP, supported through the Neighbourhood Budget allocations of Cllrs Eddy Adam, John Clare, Mike Dixon, Joan Gray, Jed Hillary, Kate Hopper and Sarah Iveson, EDRC & Spennymoor, and Paul will be working closely with local social enterprise NEFIRST to deliver the project in the south of the County.

NEFIRST, who are regulated by The FCA, are providers of ethical and socially responsible financial services, are providing the systems, training and administration of the project, and all savings are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The contractual relationship is directly between NEFIRST and members of staff, therefore there is no risk to employers regarding loan repayments and saving security