The Fishing Without a Safety Net report recommended that a funder, such as The Seafarers’ Charity, take steps to create a ‘safety net’ to support the personal finance needs of fishing families and enhance their financial resilience.

This was referred to within the report as a ‘share fisher plus’ model – in effect, the existing self-employment model favoured by the industry PLUS financial support and protections available to PAYE employees.

One year later, The Seafarers’ Charity has taken forward these recommendations and created a Safety Net for fishing families in the UK. The Safety Net consists of:

  • Commsave Credit Union – offering a range of financial services, such as the ability to save and budget for specific items, a tax budgeting account with payments made direct to HMRC, as well as access to affordable loans, including loans to support access to government grant schemes which typically require pre-payment or an upfront contribution. The Credit Union also offers a Bereavement Fund which will pay out a sum of between £500 and £5,000 to a nominated beneficiary. Find out more.
  • Financial capability resources and training – this includes four separate components:
    A new website providing information, advice and tools to help people manage their money, develop their budget and better understand financial products and other services that can help them.

    A one-hour Financial Wellbeing money management training course created and funded by The Seafarers’ Charity in partnership with an industry stakeholder working group. The training course is part of Seafish’s training for 200 new entrants to fishing every year. The training course, trainers’ notes, and accompanying materials is hosted by Seafish and free for training providers to download and use with fishing communities. The training course includes a short film about managing tax and National Insurance payments.

    A 90-minute webinar for Financial Champions in fishing communities was delivered by The Money Charity. The webinar was aimed at individuals in local ports who want to understand more about how to spot financial problems and the range of free help, information and support that is available. This approach recognises the importance of informal learning and peer support. It aims to equip people to know how they can help someone who may be worrying about money or experiencing financial difficulties. Watch a recording of the webinar.

    Financial Capability Campaign – aimed at using a range of resources to deliver messages to effect long-term behavioural change in respect of money management practices. This will be focused on the Money and Pension Services ‘Talk Money Week’ which takes places 8-12 November 2021.
  • Access to advice and information via the Seafarers’ Advice and Information Line (SAIL). SAIL is a Citizens Advice service for fishers and seafarers. They provide a free and confidential telephone advice line. They are able to answer questions and provide help in respect of debt problems, access to welfare benefits and charity grants, housing and consumer issues.
  • Increased awareness and promotion of the range of charitable support that exists for fishers, including The Fishermen’s Mission, Seafarers Hospital Society, Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, the Sailors’ Children’s Society, Fisheries Animation Project, Fathom Podcast, Relate Relationship Counselling and Togetherall mental health support, amongst others.

The Seafarers’ Charity believes the creation of a Safety Net for fishing families will help to encourage and support greater financial resilience and reduce their need for charitable support. Maritime welfare charities perform a brilliant role in supporting low-income beneficiaries with either regular grant payments over an extended period or a one-off hardship grant in response to an immediate need. However, once the immediate crisis has abated there exists scope for charities to do more to enhance the financial capability of their beneficiaries and support them on to a path of future financial resilience.

Read The Safety Net Policy Brief for an overview of the Fishing Without a Safety Net report’s findings, The Safety Net’s aims, and how you can help. COVID-19 and Brexit mean Government policy support in fishing communities has never been more needed.