In 2018-19, the Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit awarded a grant of £100,000 to Scotcash to deliver the ‘Money MOT’ programme. Scotcash was established in 2007 to provide affordable loans, help with setting up bank and credit unioin savings accounts and with accessing money advice.

The grant money was used to support the provision of a free ‘Money MOT’, either face to face, over the phone or through a newly developed live web chat facility. The aims of the Money MOT were to encourage people to get a financial health check before considering a loan, to help people from vulnerable groups with budgeting and to raise awareness of the harm surrounding illegal money lending. As part of the MOT, users could take a debt test, use an online benefits checker, get money advice and, where appropriate, access affordable credit. They could also be directed to other services provided by Scotcash, such as help to open bank and savings accounts and advice on fuel poverty, debt and benefits.

Since the Money MOT programme was launched, over 4,000 users have used web chat sessions, reporting very high levels of satisfaction with the service. The total financial gains for service users who submitted claims after using the benefit checker were over £25,000 (this figure does not take into account those claims which were submitted independently and so the number is likely to be much higher).

Since its launch, Money MOT has provided a service which, in the long term, will allow more people to find alternatives to using illegal money lenders. It provides free and non-threatening advice and support to people, which they can access on their own terms.

Read the full project evaluation here.