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Scotland-backed workplace savings campaign leads UK with first big wins | United Kingdom | New

Work and Save Scotland was launched earlier this year with the aim of reducing money worries for employees through payday savings.

A dozen household names such as Scottish Water, Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow University and Edinburgh Airport have joined the scheme, along with the councils of North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and North Ayrshire.

Work and Save Scotland enables employees to access savings schemes with credit unions, with payments deducted directly from their pay.

The Scottish government launched the scheme in January and it has since been adopted by the UK’s Money and Pensions Service Scotland.

Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison yesterday hailed the scheme for ‘helping create a valuable financial buffer’ in people’s lives.

More employers are preparing to join the scheme after discovering staff – especially younger workers – like savings held by not-for-profit Scottish credit unions which have teams of local advisers to help with financial know-how.

Ms Robison added: “We know families are grappling with the cost of living crisis and are being hit hard, especially with rising energy bills and food costs.

“That’s why we’ve allocated £3billion this year to help mitigate the effects.

“I am delighted that the Work and Save programme, funded by our Scottish Community Lenders Fund, is helping people to create a valuable financial reserve by developing workplace savings schemes.

“Setting a small amount of money aside on payday can help people prepare for unexpected expenses.”

Maria Bradshaw, People Director at new employer Work and Save Scottish Enterprise, said: “Supporting the financial wellbeing of employees goes beyond ensuring fair and equal pay.

“It’s also about providing helpful resources and easy ways to budget or save when circumstances change and financials are impacted.

“Scottish Enterprise has a long-standing relationship with credit unions and giving our employees access to credit union savings directly from their pay is one of the many ways we aim to support the staff with solutions to protect their financial well-being.”

The Scottish Government believes that credit unions are an underused source of expertise and financial support.

Allison Barnes, Scotland’s Head of Money and Pensions Service, said: “As part of plans in Scotland to deliver our UK Financial Wellbeing Strategy and our aim to increase the number of new UK savers, we have highlighted Work and Save Scotland as a good example of workplace programs to help people build up a savings reserve.

“Employers have an important role to play in supporting the financial well-being and resilience of their employees. We hope others will take similar initiatives to help their employees develop the habit of saving.

Katrina Wright, Scottish Water Wellbeing and Resilience Consultant, said: “Financial wellbeing plays a central role for many employees when it comes to pressures at work and at home.

“Scottish Water is working with two credit unions and Work and Save-Scotland to make this available to all our employees, providing access to ethical saving and borrowing as well as advice on budgeting.

“We are also working with an external vendor on online and in-store retailer discounts, as well as wage sacrifice agreements for certain employee benefits.

“Access to support with financial planning, such as preparing for retirement, is also important.

Financial wellness is all about providing fair compensation, but it goes beyond that by finding ways to help people manage their money so it can go further.

One of Scotland’s largest social enterprises, The Wise Group, has also joined Work and Save Scotland. Suzanne McWilliams, People Director, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Work and Save Scotland.

“It’s great to be able to support the financial well-being of colleagues, giving them the tools to save when they need it.

“As the cost of living crisis deepens, we consider it our top priority to support our colleagues so that they can support others as much as possible.

“This has included financial cost-of-living increases, financial support for groceries, and mental health support partially provided through our ‘Headstrong’ sessions.”

Some modern credit unions now even offer non-profit car loans and mortgages, without the need for commercial lenders.

Scottish subsidiaries of major multinationals have also joined forces, including Japan’s world leader in microchip production Shin-Itsu Handotai.

The education sector has started to get involved, with the UK’s largest college, Dundee and Angus, and the University of Glasgow leading the way.