We are delighted that Policy in Practice has been chosen as a Rapid Recovery Challenge semi-finalist from 148 entries.

The £3 million Challenge is funded by Nesta, in partnership with DWP, JPMorgan Chase and Money and Pensions Service. It is supporting tools and services that improve access to jobs and money for people across the UK, focussing on those hardest hit by the economic shock resulting from COVID-19, and aims to support 1million people by 2023.

Policy in Practice will be working to scale our winning solution, the My Benefits Calculator app, to thousands of people in the next year, in order to help those in society who need it most. My Benefits Calculator is a personalised app to navigate the complex benefit system. It will give you access to the widest possible range of support, help you plan from month to month, and put you in control of your money, so you can take steps toward financial independence.

The need for the Rapid Recovery Challenge

COVID-19 has drastically changed the financial resilience of people in the UK, young and old alike. It has made more of us financially insecure and in need of welfare support, in many cases for the first time. Applications for Universal Credit soared by 90% between March and September 2020, resulting in nearly 6 million people now receiving the benefit. We now have nearly 1.6 million people looking for work as a result of the pandemic, a staggering 117% increase between March and August. Sadly this looks set to increase further, to more than 2m, as the OBR expects more jobs to be lost by April 2021 when the furlough scheme ends. 

In response to the crisis, Nesta launched the Rapid Recovery Challenge in September 2020. The challenge aims to find innovative solutions relating to jobs and financial recovery in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s focused on supporting and scaling solutions from organisations and charities that will improve the job prospects and financial situations of people across the UK, from young people to marginalised groups. The semi-finalist’s innovative solutions range from helping people identify and develop transferable skills to find new work, to digital and personalised support to navigate benefits, bills and personal finances. 

Rapid Recovery Challenge semi-finalist: My Benefits Calculator

The My Benefits Calculator app by Policy in Practice will give you a free personalised way to navigate the complex benefit system. Covid-19 has made many more of us financially insecure and in need of social security, sometimes for the first time. Often, we don’t know the full range of support we could get from the benefit system and elsewhere, and more than £10 billion goes unclaimed each year.

Our app will help you to access the widest possible range of support, keep track of Universal Credit as your payments change from month to month, put you in control of your finances and help you to take steps toward financial independence. This will help all of us to recover faster from the effects of Covid-19.

“Covid-19 has made many of us financially vulnerable and in need of the welfare system, perhaps for the first time. Finding your way around the complicated system though is hard – over £10 billion of benefits is unclaimed each year. My Benefits Calculator will help people to access the widest possible range of support, and keep track of their finances from month to month. We’re delighted to become a Rapid Recovery Challenge semi-finalist. Thanks to the support of the Rapid Recovery Challenge we will be able to help people recover from the financial effects of Covid-19 and build their financial resilience.”

Deven Ghelani, Director and Founder, Policy in Practice

The new app will build on our successful online Benefit and Budgeting Calculator, available through GOV.UK which allows users to check their eligibility for certain benefits. The app will provide ongoing, personalised support to give people with insecure earnings the ability to plan for the next month.

Helping new claimants to access the widest range of support will have an immediate impact on economic recovery. Personalised on-going calculations will help users to manage their monthly income, empower people to make more informed choices and move people towards financial independence.

The impact My Benefits Calculator will have

Nearly 6 million people claim Universal Credit now, and this is growing. At the same time, £10 billion of benefits is unclaimed each year. If just 10% of claimants use My Benefits Calculator to access all the support they’re eligible for we will help 600,000 people to build their financial resilience.

Deven Ghelani, Director and Founder, Policy in Practice

My Benefits Calculator will have a positive impact by showing you how your income may change from month to month. It will highlight little known benefits you could claim that can make a big difference. The app will also help you to manage your expenditure so you can keep on top of your payment commitments and avoid falling into debt. Finally, the app will link to DWP’s ‘find a job service’ and show you how you may be better off in work.

Over the last year we have reached 1.2 million users with our existing web-based Benefit and Budgeting Calculator. We know that 33% of our current users report no earnings, and 89% of households report no savings. 92% of our users report earnings below £18,000 a year. As we continue to navigate through the effects of COVID-19, My Benefits Calculator is needed now more than ever.  

By helping you to access the benefit system and track your income from month to month, My Benefits Calculator will put you in control of your finances, easing pressure and helping you to take steps to progress in work, and toward financial independence.

Get involved: please join our user research

We will be carrying out user research from January 2021 to help us develop My Benefits Calculator. If you, your organisation or the people you support would like to take part please contact us on 0330 088 9242 or via hello@policyinpractice.co.uk

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TitleDateStart TimeDurationRegister
How to identify and support Just About Managing households using data The government has said it wants to make life easier for the 'squeezed middle' or people who are just about managing. These are the families who are not rich and they are also not those on the lowest incomes. Despite most being in work, they are struggling to meet their cost of living and it is no wonder.

The cost of living hit a 30-year high in February with inflation running at 6.2% and outpacing wage growth. Electricity bills were up nearly 20% in the year to January 2022, and gas bills by 28%, with further rises expected. Private rental prices across the UK went up by 2% in the year to January, the highest rate for five years; in the East Midlands that figure was 3.6%.

We know that one in five UK adults (10.3 million people) have less than £100 in savings, one in ten have no savings at all and more than a quarter have less than £500. Many are one broken appliance away from slipping into debt.

Local authorities want to help families who are struggling now to avoid a crisis down the line yet they have little or no visibility over people who are not already claiming benefits. Now though, analysis of other datasets can be used to get a clearer picture of families who are just about managing.

Join this webinar to learn:

- Who is just about managing now but at risk in the future due to the rising cost of living
- Which datasets can be used to identify families in danger of debt
- How local authorities can target support to avert crisis
29/6/202210:30 BST1.3 hours
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