Experiences of money management in the youth service

Experiences of Money Management in the Youth Servi…
01 Feb 2021


MSD provides the Youth Payment and Young Parents Payment to young people aged 16 -19 who need financial assistance, or who are the main caregiver for a child.

Recipients of these two payments are currently subject to compulsory money management. After the Welfare Expert Advisory Group recommended abolishing compulsory money management in the Youth service, MSD undertook survey research with providers and current and past recipients.

The purpose of the surveys was to ensure that future policy options for money management considered the views of young people’s experiences of compulsory money management and get feedback on proposed options for money management. Findings are based on the views of 101 Youth Service providers and the 556 young people.

The objectives of the research are to:

  1. understand Youth Service providers’ views on young people’s experiences of compulsory money management
  2. gain feedback from Youth Service providers on the proposed options for compulsory money management
  3. understand the views of young people receiving YP/YPP, or who had done so in the last three years, on their experiences of the current settings of compulsory money management
  4. gain feedback from these young people on the proposed options for compulsory money management.


The two studies used surveys that were administered electronically. The surveys consisted of open- and closed-ended questions.

Details of the methodology employed in the studies are provided in Appendix A. Appendix A also describes the ethics of the research. All quotes were reported verbatim with no corrections made. In cases where young people or providers disclosed personal details that could risk identifying them (eg their hometown name or location of Youth Service centre) the information was withheld from the report.

The questionnaires for providers and payment recipients were largely similar. The first question asked respondents about their general feelings towards money management, and their perceptions on how effective different components of the policy are in ensuring the basic needs of young people are met and in developing their financial capacity. Providers were also asked how helpful they believed the policy is in assisting recipients with their debt repayments. The questionnaire then asked providers and recipients to rank their preference for different policy settings and to explain their preferences. Young people were asked if they had any other ideas on how the way Youth Service manages their YP/YPP could be improved. The final question asked recipients whether they would choose to partake in the different components of money management if it was voluntary.

Providers were asked their opinion on how likely they thought young people were to opt in. The full survey for Youth Service providers can be found in Appendix B, and the survey for youth recipients in Appendix C. Descriptive analysis was performed to present quantitative data, and thematic analysis to interpret the findings from the qualitative data. Numbers smaller than six were suppressed in the results to avoid risking identifying participants. The aim of thematic analysis is to organise qualitative findings in a meaningful way. It should be noted that because the focus of the qualitative analyses was to group the lived experiences of participants into high-level themes, the report could not discuss every unique experience described by participants. However, care was taken to note common experiences and where present, to highlight any contradicting views. For most of the qualitative questions, the insights did not quantify how many participants (providers or young people) shared particular experiences.

Key Results

Which option for money management do providers and recipients prefer?

  • Providers believe that the best approach to money management would be to let youth coaches decide who should be placed under money management.
  • Almost as many young people preferred that youth coaches decide which young people should be put on money management than those who thought it should stay compulsory until obligations are met.
  • Both providers and youth recipients strongly indicated that the least preferred option was to remove money management completely.
  • There was concern among providers that the complete removal of money management would result in young people requiring additional assistance to meet their basic needs, thereby increasing the need for emergency housing and food grants.

What is working?

  • Most providers (64 percent) agreed that money management is beneficial to most young people.
  • Providers and young people felt that while money management is largely beneficial for most young people, for some it can contribute to difficulty.
  • Even the providers and recipients who advocated to keep money management as compulsory often noted that they would want several changes made to money management if it was kept.
  • Providers reported that the two main components of money management (the management of payments and the budgeting component) were similar in their effectiveness in ensuring that the needs of young people are met.
  • Providers thought that the budgeting component was more successful in increasing the financial capacity of young people than the management of their payments.
  • Half of YP/YPP recipients thought that the way their payments are managed helps them to meet their basic needs.
  • Young people indicated that the budgeting component was more helpful than the management of their payments through Youth Service in ensuring their basic needs are met and in increasing their financial capacity.

What are the problems associated with money management?

  • In general, young people do not have strong positive feelings towards money management.
  • The limited use of the payment card was one of the main problems young people experienced with money management. It was reported to be a key contributor to the incur of debt (along with the frequently slow process of setting up the redirection of payments).
  • Considering the limited use of the card, the small amount of money received as an inhand allowance was often inadequate to meet the needs of young people and hindered young people to save.
  • Additionally, many young people report that money management as it stands:
    •  inhibits them from learning how to manage their own finances
    • can make them to feel stigmatised and impacts their mental health
    • does not make them feel empowered.
  • Young people living in rural areas and young parents in particular felt disadvantaged by money management.

How do providers and recipients suggest money management be improved?

  • The settings for money management should recognise that different groups of young people have different needs
    • Providers and young people felt that YP clients and YPP clients had different needs and called for these to be reflected in the way Youth Service supports young people
    • The unique needs of recipients in rural areas and young parents should be considered
  • There needs to be a reliable way to determine who needs money
    • Young people and providers mentioned that whether or not money management
      became reserved only for those who require help to manage their own finances, there
      needs to be a reliable way to determine who needs to be placed under it/taken off.
    • Despite the fact that the preferred option was to let youth coaches decide, both
      parties expressed a need for consistent criteria to be applied to limit the discretion of
      individual youth coaches.
  •  Redirections of payments should be optional and flexible
    • Providers were relatively supportive of the redirections of the payments (especially
      towards rent) but suggested there be more options and flexibility surrounding
      redirections. They also thought the time it took to process redirections disadvantaged
    • Many young people would like to have the option of having their payments redirected.
  • The payment card should be removed or expanded
    • Providers and recipients strongly advocated for the payment card to be removed.
    • In the case that the payment card was to continue, both groups wanted how and where the payment card could be used to be considerably expanded.
    • Being able to purchase petrol with the payment card was one of the most frequently mentioned recommendations regarding how to expand the use of the card.
    • The limited use of the payment card especially disadvantages young parents and young people living in more rural areas.
  • The in-hand allowance should be increased (especially if payment card remains)
    • The perceptions of the adequacy of the in-hand allowance was intrinsically linked to
      perceptions of the problems associated with the limited use of the payment card.
    • Young people and providers felt that the amount young people receive directly into
      their bank accounts should be increased. This is particularly the case if the payment
      card is to be kept.
    • Young parents in particular struggled to meet the needs of their families considering the limited use of the payment card and the amount the received as an in-hand allowance.
  • The nature of obligations should be revised
    • Providers expressed strong support for the budgeting component.
    • However, some felt that the length of time young people needed to meet their obligations before being taken off money management needs to be reduced.
    • Recipients felt that parenting and budgeting programme did not always reflect their lives well.
    • Young parents felt that obligations could be more cognisant of the needs of parents.
  • The relationship between Youth Service and recipients could be improved
    • Young people want to have more positive engagement with their youth coaches.
    • Young people feel that youth coaches prioritise financial support when young people want more personal and emotional support.
    • Some young people also want more frequent engagements with youth coaches.
    • They feel that the support offered by Youth Service could be more reliable.
Page last modified: 13 Oct 2023