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4th April 2008

Disadvantaged youngsters in Cambridgeshire get access to unique debit card

Cambridgeshire County Council works with pre-paid debit card pioneers to give disadvantaged young people more independence
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Cambridgeshire County Council has launched a unique pre-paid card scheme, the g2g Card, in partnership with leading pre-paid card issuer, Raphaels Bank and pre-paid card solutions provider, Altair Financial Services International Plc (Altair). Developed for disadvantaged young people aged 13-17, the card will be pre-loaded by Cambridgeshire County Council with £40 a month for the cardholder to spend on positive activities such as sports, music, arts and drama.

The scheme, which is being funded by the Government, will run as a pilot for one year to offer up to 2,000 young people in Cambridgeshire access to activities that previously may have been out of their reach.

“We are delighted to be launching the g2g Card, a pre-paid Maestro™ debit card that can help disadvantaged young people try different activities without being held back by the cost", confirmed Simon Bates, Project Manager at Cambridgeshire County Council. "The pilot scheme aims to test whether funding activities that boost a young person's confidence and esteem outside the school gate, will, in turn, help to build confidence and esteem inside the classroom."

"Research has proven that those who take part in activities stand an improved chance of doing better at school as well as being more likely to contribute to the community and less likely to be involved with anti-social behaviour. However, there is a range of barriers that stops about 25% of youngsters taking part in activities, ranging from transport problems to lack of finance. With the g2g Card scheme we want to see if we can address the finance barrier.

"Cambridgeshire is one of nine local authorities in the Government pilot to be using Mastercard or Visa card solutions and we have been working closely with Raphaels Bank and Altair to develop a card that is safe and secure for young people to use. The scheme provides these young people with new opportunities to develop skills and the confidence to build a positive future for themselves."

The g2g Card will be available to 2,000 pre-selected young people from Cambridgeshire who receive free school meals or are in local authority care. Cardholders will have £40 loaded onto their card every month, allowing them to pay for activities at a list of registered providers. They will not, however, be able to use the card to withdraw cash. Every card issued will come with a PIN to protect the system from fraud and unspent money will be carried over to the next month, allowing individuals to save up funds if they wish.

Card issuer, Raphaels Bank, has worked in partnership with Altair to create a chip and PIN card that will only work with pre-approved merchants, so that the funds can only be spent on a wide range of council-approved activities. A micro site has been set up to promote the scheme at www.g2gcard.co.uk and a dedicated website has been set up for cardholders at www.purplepigeon.net/g2gcard, providing information on how to use it and find activities.

"We are tremendously excited about being involved in this project", confirmed Mike Smith, Director, Raphaels Bank.  "The g2g Card will give young people their first debit card, teaching them how to deal with money in a safe way, without getting into debt.  We have worked with Altair to ensure the card is secure and can only be used for the range of activities selected by Cambridgeshire County Council.  We will be monitoring, very closely, how the pilot proceeds over the coming year and look forward to working with other local authorities in the future, once this scheme has been proven."

Lee Britton, CEO at Altair added, “We are delighted to be working with Raphaels Bank on the g2g card. This project uses our technology to improve the ability of young people in Cambridgeshire to take part in out of school activities in a positive way, promoting fiscal responsibility. We look forward to the pilot being incredibly successful."

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