Financial services group AXA is hoping to start a national debate on personal finances with its 'AXA Avenue', a social experiment based on a street in Brighton.

The project aims to tackle financial issues as debts and savings by offering 20 households on one side of the street financial advice over a year, while leaving the other side alone as a control group.

AXA believes that the experiment, AXA Avenue, will provide insights into the financial habits of the nation. Spokesperson for AXA, Kim Clemo said: There can be no doubt that the UK consumer faces a complex range of financial issues from high levels of personal debt to lack of planning for retirement.

But, while we know these issues exist, there’s no agreement on what the solutions should be. We’re confident that some of the answers will emerge from AXA Avenue and we hope it will kick-start a serious debate about financial planning, in much the same way Jamie Oliver did with school dinners.

Comparisons will be made throughout the year between the two sets of households by independent financial adviser Saran Allot-Davey, who has already assessed the financial status of the participants. She said: Many regard finance matters as dull and boring and never talk about money even to their partners. For most people getting professional financial advice simply hasn’t been on the radar.

The year-long experiment begins at the start of 2006, with the first report available at the end of January.