College of Social Sciences
CHASM Spring e-Bulletin 2020
Welcome to the CHASM e-bulletin, bringing together all the latest news and events from the Centre over the last four months.

Let us know what you think via twitter, email or find out more about the work that we do on the CHASM website.
e-Bulletin Round-up
From CHASM Director Andy Lymer
This e-bulletin is particularly noteworthy for CHASM – it marks our 10th anniversary! We were formed as a research group at the University of Birmingham in 2010 and launched with a conference in February of that year. Many of the same faces still form the core members of the Centre. This level of consistency of personnel has enabled us, we believe, to have created a real impact in our chosen field of research – of personal financial wellbeing – over this time. Some of you may have been reading these periodic bulletins since that time, or shortly thereafter – but even if you are a more recent reader we thank you for your support.

We will look to acknowledge this milestone at our Annual Conference this year (2nd July, again at the Friends’ Meeting House Euston Road, London) but not by looking backwards just to review what we have been doing. Instead we will seek to look forward to explore where research needs to be applied in the next 10 years in our areas of interest. We have so far secured to share their thoughts on this with us, Baroness Claire Tyler, Professor Tom Shapiro (Brandeis University, USA) and the Right Reverend, David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham – all key players in their different ways addressing personal financial challenges faced by individuals and households across the UK, and further afield. More details will follow but we very much hope you will join us for what we believe will be a great event.

Do please read below the details of the various activities members of the Centre have been engaged with over the last few months – including that of our newest core member, Dr Stewart Smyth, who we welcome to our Centre, and a change of our Deputy Director to Dr Louise Overton. Until the next bulletin.


Andy Lymer
CHASM Director
Should people with problem debt save?
Joanna Elson, CEO of the Money Advice Trust and CHASM Advisory Board Chair and Andy Lymer, Director of CHASM, discuss the schemes and support available to help those with problem debt in the latest University of Birmingham ‘Unfiltered’ film series. Watch the video, read the blog and listen to the podcast.
Read more »
CHASM contributes to 'Riches Line' research
Karen Rowlingson is part of a research team that has completed an innovative study in London, examining whether members of the public could agree on a threshold above which a standard of living could be regarded as excessive, or harmful to wider society. Its findings contribute to current public and political debates around inequality and offer insights into how ordinary people think about high incomes, wealth and the wealthy.
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Digital futures for taxation administration
As part of CHASM’s link with the National Audit Office/University of Birmingham Tax Centre, Kim Scharf (the NAO Centre’s Director and a CHASM Core member) and Andy Lymer (CHASM Director and member of the NAO Centre), ran a full day workshop in January for NAO, HMRC and HM Treasury staff exploring possible digital futures that could influence tax administration processes in the near to medium term future. The workshop included a presentation of a new paper authored Andy, Jennie Granger (UNSW, Australia – and a speaker at the workshop) and Bernadene de Clercq (UNISA, South Africa and CHASM Associate).
A new vision for housing in Northern Ireland
New CHASM Core member, Stewart Smyth, has launched a new vision for housing commissioned by the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA). Stewart has written extensively about social housing in Britain with particular emphasis on financing and policy implications. Read more about 21st Century Housing for Northern Ireland.
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Former MP and Shadow Minister, Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods visits CHASM
At her visit in early February, Professor Andy Lymer discussed many aspects of the work of CHASM and the Housing and Communities Research Group related to housing and wellbeing with Dr Blackman-Woods. She has both an academic research background in these areas in addition to having held various roles on the Shadow Front Bench.
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What next for the exempt accommodation sector?
In November 2019, CHASM Honorary Fellow, Thea Raisbeck, published a report on Exempt Accommodation ‘Exempt from Responsibility?’ for Spring Housing Association. The report increased dialogue around ending social injustice in exempt accommodation within multiple forums and across a range of platforms. Spring Housing Association’s Group Chief Executive, Dominic Bradley, has written an insightful blog on what has happened since the report was published.
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CHASM Fisher International Research Fellows Announced for 2020
CHASM has completed two highly successful annual International Research Fellow schemes across 2018 and 2019 in which we hosted a total of six Fellows. We now have confirmed the appointments of four dynamic and capable Fisher International Research Fellows to visit CHASM in 2020.
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Dr Louise Overton announced as the new CHASM Deputy Director
With effect from 1 January 2020, Louise Overton has become the new Deputy Director of the CHASM Research Centre, taking over the role from Professor Karen Rowlingson who is taking a well-earned sabbatical year to focus on her research. Louise said of this appointment, ‘I am delighted to be taking on the role of Deputy Director of CHASM. I have been involved in CHASM since its launch ten years ago when I was a PhD student under the supervision of Professor Karen Rowlingson. In more recent years, as a core member and Lecturer in Social Policy, I have enjoyed working on a range of projects related to my broad area of interest – financial wellbeing and later life. I very much look forward to developing this and other research themes, and working with CHASM’S Director and the wider team to expand the reach and impact of our rigorous, policy-relevant research in the UK and beyond.’
Renewal of CHASM Honorary Research Fellows
We are very pleased to announce that Dr Edward Brunsdon and Dr Margaret May have been re-appointed as two of CHASM’s Honorary Research Fellows. Over the next two years of their appointments, they will continue to contribute to the work of CHASM, furthering their research and contributing to conferences and publications on work-based welfare, financial transfers, taxation and social policy. See further details of what Edward and Maggie each plan to achieve.
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Finding and Funding Social Care Project
The first Advisory Group meeting for this project, led for CHASM by Louise Overton and Andy Lymer in conjunction with colleagues at SPRU in York, the University of Huddersfield and the HealthTalk research team at the University of Oxford, was held at the University of York in early February. The project team have, so far, conducted two focus groups with information and advice providers and professionals in the financial services sector. They are also busy interviewing self-funders about their experiences of finding their way through the financial aspects of the UK’s social care system. See further details on how this project will produce a new module on a new SocialCareTalk website.
Read more »
A Tenant’s Journey: Year two survey results published
The second year of survey results have been analysed for our project with East Devon District Council and LiveWest. Data from over 1,100 people is displayed as an infographic as we continue to follow the experiences of those applying for, and living in, social housing in the South West as Universal Credit roles out in this region. It shows how social housing has a marked impact on anxiety levels of those who are allocated property with a good social landlord, adding to the clear case for more suitable social housing in the UK. See other results from our analysis of the first two years of this project.
Read more »
Upcoming events
Ten Year Anniversary CHASM Conference 2020
Titled ‘Financial Wellbeing: Risk and Reward in Contemporary Society’, our conference will be held on Thursday 2nd July 2020 in London. Speakers include Baroness Claire Tyler, Rt Reverend David Urquhart Bishop of Birmingham and Professor Thomas Shapiro. The conference is a chance to review ten years of rigorous and insightful research in the financial wellbeing, inclusion and capability sectors but will also look to the future – what are the research agendas that need to be explored over the next 10 years? Join us for the CHASM Conference 2020.
Find out more »
Event reports
Behaviourally informed financial education outcomes
On 7 January, Will Brambley, Behavioural Economist and Research Associate from the Open University, presented a fascinating CHASM seminar titled ‘Can ‘behaviourally-informed’ financial education improve financial behaviours and savings among low-income participants?’. See further details of the findings of this interesting large scale project.
Find out more »
Roundtable on ‘where next’ for public tax education in the UK?
In early January, Andy Lymer co-hosted a roundtable event held at Deloitte’s offices in London with Phyllis Alexander (Bournemouth University) and Daniel Lyons (leader of Deloitte’s Tax Policy Group). The event looked to take forward work recently done by Phyllis Alexander and others at Bournemouth University with Andy on tax literacy amongst students as soon to be entrants into the employment market – and also research recently performed by Deloitte on the public tax education gap – both of which highlighted the significant challenges faced by developing a better base for informed debate about the tax system we may wish to have in the UK in the future. This event included participants from the Chartered Institute of Tax, the Low Income Tax Research Group (LITRG), the Office for Tax Simplification, National Association of Student Money Advisers (NASMA), National Union of Students (NUS). A key proposal from the discussions was the possible need to raise the public profile of tax with a UK Tax week. A write up of the discussion from this event is being prepared for the CIOT Tax Adviser Magazine.
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