Jeff Mitchell

Feeling Golden?

Quids in! magazine has reached its 50th edition. It’s quite a milestone. It’s our kinda Golden Jubilee, so why don’t I feel like it’s time to party?

Apart from the obvious dampener on everyone’s spirits right now – step forward, Coronavirus – the world just feels, well, rubbish. It feels like life is
harder for people on lower incomes now than it was when we launched Quids in! in 2008.

It might not be apparent yet but I worry we will emerge from lockdown more divided than before. People who had money to fall back on may be fine. So will people who always had a bit left over each month, assuming they were able to keep working. Those people might actually feel better off. But almost everyone else’s finances have taken a total battering.

In The Beginning

Quids in! set out to help people on low incomes become better off. Simples.
Back in 2008 we saw high interest lenders and loan sharks targeting low income estates. In the same areas, cash machine charges matched almost as much as their customers had in their accounts.

People forced onto pre-payment meters paid more than their neighbours for gas and electric. Rent-to-buy companies often charged at least twice as much for furniture and appliances as outlets serving people with ready cash.

We aimed to arm householders with tips and suggestions. Everyone else seemed to have all the inside knowledge needed to spot the pitfalls before it was too late. Quids in! was born to pick up those tips and turn them into easy-to-follow steps. We’d try to get them through every letterbox in every door on every estate targeted by loan sharks and abandoned by mainstream services.

Before many of our partners went digital, this magazine reached over 300,000 households in a year. That’s not a bad start. Since then, we’ve added to our arsenal the Quids In Readers Club monthly email service. We also have guides for Universal Credit claimants, new tenants and people struggling to keep food on the table .

What We’ve Achieved

Last year, Quids in! merged with Clean Slate Training & Employment – another not-for-profit I set up over ten years ago. This enabled us to take money tips into libraries, community cafes and council offices. When lockdown struck, our Future-Proof Finance Quiz came into its own. Our teams were able to reach out to people and use it to conduct a ‘money
health-check’.

This helped around 300 people and 200 more through partners around the country. Those who took part boosted the cash in their pockets by an average £319. This year we expect to work with over 1,000 by phone and hundreds more online.

On reflection, there is lots to celebrate. our Golden Jubilee is only tinged by things not having improved much for our readers. But then we never set out to change the world. Just the quality of our readers’ lives.

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