PHOTO: Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham, Rachel Blackamore, Managing Director, Customer Engagement & Distribution, NatWest, Rizwana Awan, CEO Citizens Advice South End, Andrew Seager, Executive Director Commercial, Citizens Advice.
Since 2020 members of staff from Citizens Advice have supported teams from across NatWest by providing a referral service for customers who contact NatWest with issues including with debt, benefits, relationships and family. The advisers assist in instances where the bank believes that Citizens Advice could offer support that addresses a root cause of financial vulnerability.
The project has successfully helped over 2,000 customers across the UK with complex financial issues and continues until September 2022, by which time NatWest expects to have helped over 4,000 people with complex advice needs. This service is available across NatWest, Royal Bank and Ulster Bank.
The latest report details the impact of the pilot one year on. It found that:
- There have been over 2,100 referrals from NatWest Group to Citizens Advice since the programme started in October 2020 with the numbers increasing month on month.
- Over half (59%) of the referrals were from customers who had not accessed Citizens Advice before.
- 86% of customers were over 35, compared to Citizens Advice’s overall base of 73%.
The report is released as millions of people face up to rising household costs. Previous Citizens Advice research has revealed:
- 1 in 10 UK families – about 3 million households – were facing a cost-of-living crunch this winter, unable to cover even basic bills such as food and heating.
- 1 in 5 of all adults are cutting back on food shopping or turning off the heating, while 1 in 10 anticipate needing to use food banks.
David Lindberg, CEO, Retail Banking at NatWest said: “Through our partnership with Citizens Advice, we want to deliver personalised support to our most vulnerable customers. Many people who come to us for support have complex financial issues which impact their lives. In this current economic environment, it’s more important now than ever to be able to intervene when customers experience early signs of financial difficulty and help them to improve their financial capability.’’
The partnership is the latest in a series by NatWest to recognise and tackle wider relational, environmental and social factors that can contribute to making people worse off and underscores the bank’s preparedness to assist customers facing potential difficulty in the coming months.
Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive at Citizens Advice said: “The cost-of-living crisis is affecting millions of people across the country and many are finding it tough. We know that programmes like our partnership with NatWest can help us reach more people so they can get the advice they need at the right time.”
Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham said: “It’s important that people have organisations they can turn to for support when experiencing financial difficulty. As we continue to recover from the pandemic and changes to the cost of living cause people to experience complex problems they may not have experienced before, it is encouraging that organisations such as NatWest Group and Citizens Advice are working together to meet the wider advice and support needs of vulnerable customers.”
Read the full report here: Strengthening the safety net: supporting NatWest Group’s most vulnerable customers (PDF 634KB)