Financial Resilience in 5 – with Darren Harris

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 fourth edition we feature Suffolk Police Federation Chair, Darren Harris:

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

Financial resilience means having the ability to withstand those life events that could lead to a sudden fall in income, that may impact your savings or assets or that cause unavoidable rises in expenditure.

Those events could be individual, such as unemployment, divorce, or health issues, or they can affect wider society, such as recession, acts of terrorism or war.

For the Federation, it’s about making sure our members are in the best possible position to face those financial challenges if and when they come.

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

The pandemic impacted our members whose partners lost their jobs, were furloughed or had to change employment.

And we know from our recent pay and morale survey that many of our members are currently facing financial challenges.

The annual survey found that 75 per cent of Suffolk respondents believe they are worse off financially than in 2020 and 72 per cent feel worse off than five years ago. More than one in ten (11 per cent) said they never or almost never had enough money to cover their monthly expenses.

The survey was carried out in November, so won’t take into account the impact of the current cost of living crisis and rising food, energy and food prices.

Police officers have suffered a 20 per cent real-terms pay cut in the last decade and some of our new recruits are struggling to make ends meet on their starting salaries.

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

We’re committed to supporting our members to become more financially resilient. We give them access to organisations that specialise in giving financial advice to members of the police family. We give a presentation to new recruits, explaining the benefits of subscribing to the Police Federation and encouraging them to become members.

Paying into the Federation gives officers access to legal advice that would cost them thousands of pounds if they had to pay it out of their own pocket. We can also signpost our members to support and advice, which can help with budgeting, prioritising spending, and saving. While people see the Federation as being there when things go wrong, we do offer so much more in terms of help, support and advice.

Federation members can also subscribe to our Group Insurance Scheme which gives them a comprehensive insurance package that would cost them far more if they bought each of the policies provided separately. The scheme offers worldwide family travel insurance, motor breakdown and a range of other products.

In addition, members can book discounted breaks at our holiday lodge in Norfolk.

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

A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work would be a good start. As I mentioned above, our members have seen their pay fall in real terms by 20 per cent behind the cost of living over the last decade.

That’s going to have a huge impact on their financial resilience, which is why the Federation is campaigning for an above cost of living pay increase.

Other than that, it’s talking about our finances and seeking the appropriate help and support available.

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?

Don’t be shy about talking about money. For some reason it’s a taboo subject, but it doesn’t need to be. We are finding that more and more members feel confident to approach us if they have concerns about mental health issues, and yet they are very reluctant to discuss money troubles.

Take advice when it’s available, seek support if you need to, and you’ll be in a better position to make sound, solid decisions about your money. The Federation is here to help.

Improve your financial resilience

Prepare for your financial future with our helpful articles and tools covering everything from budgeting and savings, to borrowing and retirement. Visit: https://serveandprotectcu.co.uk/prepare

 

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