Nationwide launches three year partnership with Citizens Advice

The Society's £3 million investment will fund the recruitment and training of 1,300 volunteers who will provide financial education training and advice on money matters across the UK.

This project will combine the reach and reputation of Citizens Advice Bureaux with substantial funding from Nationwide to support consumers on a wide range of financial issues. Nationwide funding will train volunteers to carry out pro-active financial education work in their local communities. Financial capability sessions will then be available not only through the bureau network* but also directly within the community via community centres and groups and will be rolled out from mid-2009. Additionally, information will be easily accessible via Citizens Advice's online advice website, which already attracts seven million visitors per year.

For some consumers, it can be a challenge to understand and manage the range of financial products available. Therefore, as well as supporting individuals in an emergency with debt advice as all Citizens Advice bureaux currently do, there is an urgent need to prevent consumers from getting into financial difficulties in the first place. Partnering with Nationwide will mean that many more Citizens Advice bureaux can offer financial capability training to their local communities, giving consumers the skills they need to budget, borrow and save with confidence**.

Citizens Advice statistics show that:

Money is the Citizens Advice service's number one problem. Last year 1.7 million debt problems were dealt with by bureaux in England, Wales and Northern Ireland;

CAB advisers around the country are dealing with over 6,500 debt problems every working day;

In the last year, 185 of the 426 member bureaux have been involved in financial capability work. Currently only around 100 volunteers do financial capability work in bureaux, a tiny fraction of the total volunteer force of 21,000.

Maxine Taylor, director for corporate affairs at Nationwide, said: "Nationwide is committed to helping the communities in which it operates and one of our top priorities is ensuring financial education is readily available for children and adults. Our new partnership with Citizens Advice will fit excellently with our existing financial capability programmes including Nationwide Education designed for school children and The Teenagers Guide to Money written for young adults***.

"The rising cost of living and the current economic situation are taking its toll on consumers. Often people do not know where to turn if they find themselves in financial difficulty. In addition to the support our branches offer our own customers we recognise the role the Citizens Advice service has to play in providing free, independent and impartial education and advice. We are proud to be partnering with Citizens Advice and to be able to increase their capacity to support the community."

David Harker, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, added: "Volunteers are absolutely critical to the success of the Citizens Advice service. We're delighted Nationwide has committed to working with Citizens Advice to give over 400 bureaux the opportunity to create a step change in volunteers' involvement in financial capability work.

"Debt problems continue to be the number one issue seen in bureaux. This is a unique and extremely ambitious project which delivers on our commitment to do more to help people avoid getting into financial crisis. Nationwide's support means that bureaux will be able to reach hundreds of thousands of clients in their local communities with financial education sessions and advice on money matters."