Financial Resilience in 5 – with Andy Symonds

We have been asking some key stakeholders across the Serve and Protect family about the work they have been doing to improve the financial resilience of their colleagues and what it means to their organisation.

In our second edition we feature Norfolk Police Federation Chair, Andy Symonds:

1. What does financial resilience mean to Norfolk Police Federation?

Financial resilience means that our members having the capability to be able to cope with unexpected bills but also are able to save and have a plan to cover general running costs such as annual car bills, boiler servicing and such like. So this means being able to save every month to cover these expected and unexpected bills.

2. What are the financial challenges currently faced by your members?

We’re seeing many more officers come to us to seek advice and support with either debt issues or they are struggling to cope with keeping up with bills and increased cost of living. With all household bills increasing and in particular heating bills we’re seeing officers raising serious concerns that they will not be able to cope with this increase come the 1st April. We’re going to see the national insurance contributions going up and at the same time officers did not get a pay rise last year and in previous years its been capped or frozen.

3. How are Norfolk Police Federation improving the financial resilience of your members?

We are working closely with our partners who have the specialist skills and expertise in the area of financial resilience, savings and debt management. We have help available via our Group Insurance package for those officers that are members. We also have a local independent financial advisor that we can refer officers to if they need this 1-2-1 support with their finances. We have worked with the force benevolent fund to improve access to members for grants and interest free loans. We have one of our Fed reps who is one of the Benevolent Funds trustees so that we have close contacts with this fund.

4. What more do you feel can be done throughout the Police family to help improve the financial resilience of your colleagues?

I think that we need to continue to engage with officers and have a laser like focus on supporting them when they need help and advice. We must continue to be proactive in this area as sometimes its very difficult for officers to come forward and ask for help. The force have recently moved to a new provider for the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which can be accessed by officers at any time and an important element of this programme is advice and assistance with financial resilience and debt management.

5. If there was one thing you would recommend for a new recruit joining the Force to help improve their financial resilience what would it be?

I would encourage them to sign up to the pension as this is vital starting point to start saving for their retirement. It also offers protection if they were ever ill health retired. I would also encourage them to speak with one of our partners like Serve & Protect to conduct a financial resilience review with a view to starting a savings plan to make sure they have the resilience to cope with the financial pressures which are not going to get any easier for the foreseeable future. This will get them into the habit of saving at the start of their careers which as they progress through the pay scale or get promoted in the future will become easier to do than it currently is when first starting their career in the police service.

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