Orbit is keen to support programmes that allow for its customers to participate in a mainstream financial system that accommodates everyone regardless of their income and status. This is essential for anyone wanting to participate fully and fairly in everyday life. People excluded from or without access to mainstream financial services tend to pay more for goods and services and tend to have less choice. The impacts of exclusion are not just financial but affect education, employment, health, housing and their overall wellbeing.
Financial exclusion affects a wide range of people at different times in their lives, but disproportionally impacts people with low or unstable incomes that have experienced significant life shock. At risk groups of financial exclusion include lone parents, single pensioners, migrants, long term sick or disabled, long term unemployed, part-time workers and households headed by students.
Technology represents both a tremendous equaliser and barrier. Orbit is keen on activities, products and programmes that bridge the digital divide. The shift of focus to digital first is pervasive in virtually all aspects of life, this includes how Orbit is transforming how we interact with our customers. Though age is a specifically significant factor this often combines with low incomes, disability, learning difficulties, ethnic origin, location, culture and often language. The largest impacts will be on access to government services as increasingly these are being shifted to self-serve online channels. People who are digitally excluded are likely to be disproportionally heavy users of government services and needing significant support around financial advice. Among low-income groups the most significant barrier to overcome by low-income groups tends to be motivation. We are keen to see innovation that gets past stereotypes and recognises that although internet usage is ubiquitous in our daily lives many people are not confident that they have the necessary skills to make the most of it. Projects need to work alongside our core Orbit projects such as At Home Support and our Super Surfer Grants.
Orbit has experienced the positive benefits that its internal employment services delivers that bolsters the theoretical framework about the correlation of work and well-being. This is supported by extensive background evidence. Generally employment is the most important means of obtaining adequate economic resources that are essential to the material well-being and full participation in todays society. It is also generally accepted that work meets important psychological needs and is central to an individual’s identity, social roles and social status. Employment and socio-economic status form the main bulwark of drivers in social gradients in physical, mental health and mortality. Conversely there is strong evidence between unemployment and poor health. Clearly employment most acutely bisects all the core priority investment themes. Realistically Orbit appreciates that environmental factors and national policy are areas that most projects will be unable to affect. However we are looking for ways that projects can enhance our employment offers and leverages our employment offer to achieve greater customer outcomes.
We are keen to ensure that we have a broad spectrum of projects across all priority themes. However a significant number of projects fall under the umbrella of wellbeing. Largely this is because the meaning of wellbeing is subjective and widely contested. Though Orbit appreciates that there is no single determinant of wellbeing, in general we assume it to be a result of good health, positive social relationships, and the availability and access to basic resources. This broad definition is both an inherent strength and limitation. Therefore Orbit will want people who apply under the priority theme to have very clear definitions of what they mean by wellbeing. Applicants will have to be very precise in their measures, outcomes and methodologies. We will be specifically focused on projects that utilise both subjective (self reports) and objective (household income, employment) measures when assessing
In 2016 Orbit set out an ambitious challenge within the housing sector with the launch of their Creating Chances for Future Generations setting out a road map for how the housing sector can work together to tackle child poverty and create an environment for future generations to thrive. Statistics from Orbit show that 24% of children in our communities are growing up in poverty, as situation that will inevitably worsen as many more households have their income impacted by the benefit cap, with the largest families hardest hit. Housing associations impact on a significant number of children’s lives. Therefore, we need to ensure we are providing services and homes that meet the needs of the generations now and in the future to reduce the number of those living in poverty. We know that good housing directly affects a child’s health and wellbeing, and can influence access to wider social, economic and educational opportunities. Quality housing breeds stability for families and creates and environment for children to fulfil their potential. Housing providers have a duty to play their part in breaking this cycle of poverty. Orbit’s community investment team is well placed to ensure that we help deliver on these aims, taking the lessons learnt and knowledge gained and feed this back into our developments.