Money Advice Service — Developing Strategic Theories of Change & Outcomes Framework

Money Advice Service — Developing Strategic Theories of Change & Outcomes Framework

We worked with the Money Advice Service (now known as MoneyHelper) to develop strategic Theories of Change and an Outcomes Framework for the Financial Capability Strategy.

We worked with the Money Advice Service (now known as MoneyHelper) to develop strategic Theories of Change and an Outcomes Framework for the Financial Capability Strategy.


The UK Financial Capability Strategy was launched in 2015 and is being coordinated by the Money Advice Service (MAS). The Money Advice Service is the UK statutory body for improving people’s understanding and knowledge of financial matters and their ability to manage their own financial affairs. In preparation for the strategy the MAS conducted research into financial capability in the UK and found, for example, that among people of working age:

  • 12 million aren’t saving enough for their retirement
  • 27 million people do not have enough saved to allow them to cope with a significant income shock
  • Only half of working age people with families have any life cover.
The strategy is aimed at a population wide strengthening of financial capability and has strands addressing: Children and Young People; Young Adults; Working Age People and People in Retirement. 


The Tavistock Institute is working in two ways to support the MAS in developing the strategy:

1. Developing Theories of Change (ToC)

Usually we have worked with ToCs for looking back on a project in order to understand the assumptions, evidence and steps that have gone into delivering it so that it can be evaluated. This time we are using ToC to look forward for scoping and planning strategy implementation. The Financial Capability Strategy is extensive, complex and ambitious and ToCs are being used to focus and prioritise the steps to be taken and provide frameworks for strategy evaluation.By drawing on the evidence that MAS has collected and through stakeholder and staff workshops we are constructing ToCs to cover each of the four strands described above. We have undertaken an evidence review of workplace interventions on financial capability to supplement MAS’s knowledge. In addition Bristol Personal Finance Research Centre have worked with us to produce research on the savings environment and savings behaviour.Each of the ToCs addresses how these components of the financial capability system can work together to achieve change:
  1. Developing knowledge of ‘what works’ in strengthening financial capability
  2. Identifying personal drivers for changing financial capability (e.g. savings strategies)
  3. Highlighting ways in which the consumer environment helps or hinders financial capability e.g. incentives to borrow or save.
  4. The function of developing and available financial products and services in addressing financial capability and resilience
  5. The role and impact of advice and support
  6. Use of the knowledge generated by the Financial Capability Strategy to feed into UK wide policy development on financial capability. For example workplace support on financial capability for young people in apprenticeships or starting work.
The ToCs we develop are being used to guide and monitor the unfolding implementation of the Financial Capability Strategy over the next few years.

2. An outcomes framework for Older People In Retirement (OPIR)

Each of the four strands is supported by an outcomes framework that enables agencies supporting financial capability to refine their own Theories of Change and to evaluate the outcomes and impact of their work. We are working in partnership with Age UK and The Social Innovation Partnership on this project. Through it we are capturing older people’s perspectives and experiences of dealing with financial well-being while drawing on the knowledge of the services and agencies that support them. The outcomes framework will be available interactively on line via the Money Advice Service. It will enable agencies and services to select and adapt outcomes suited to the older people they are working with and their carers and families. 

Project Team

Richard Allen (Director - TOC & OPIR programmes) Cristina Castellanos (Senior Researcher Consultant OPIR programme) Dave Drabble (Project Manager OPIR programme & Researcher/consultant ToC programme) Emma Hamilton (Researcher/Writer ToC programme) Anna Hahne (Researcher Consultant OPIR programme) Dione Hills (Programme Consultant ToC programme) Giorgia Iacopini (Project Manager ToC programme) Kerstin Junge (Project Consultant OPIR programme)

Partner organisations include:

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