Citizens Advice in Lincolnshire Your countywide advice network
Excellent local advice for local needs
The need for our service is clear: our advisers dealt with 99,947 client issues in 2011 - relating to 28,548 unique clients
Lincolnshire Citizens Advice bureaux provide the people of the county with excellent quality, free and impartial advice. In 2011, with our existing facilities, we were able to deal with 99,947 client issues - helping 28,548 individual residents. Bureaux are sited at easily accessible locations in the major town centres of Lincoln, Sleaford (North Kesteven), Boston, Spalding (South Holland), Louth (East Lindsey), Gainsborough (West Lindsey), Stamford and Grantham (South Kesteven). Clients can drop in at any time during normal business hours for general advice, or make an appointment to discuss their circumstances in confidence with a specialist adviser. Outreach services operate at specific locations in smaller population centres. In mainly rural areas, with low densities of population and limited
public transport, bureaux find ways to make the service available through community links or, if necessary, by visiting clients in their homes. While each bureau offers a service to meet the characteristics and needs of its local district, we work together to tackle countywide problems with a coordinated approach that shares expertise, experience and resources. We work continuously to identify new and increasingly cost-efficient ways to deliver the level of service our clients need - and to maximise value for our funders. This includes the use of advancing technologies and working in partnership with other service providers. When we work with partners, we help those organisations to improve outcomes for their clients while enabling them to focus their own resources on their core service.
Achieving the best outcome for the client means changing lives and communities for the better and relieves pressure on support services
The problems that people seek advice for are, in many cases, interconnected with several others and cannot be dealt with in isolation. Clients may be dealing with underlying issues related to events or challenges which need to be addressed before they can move forward. Our holistic approach and the skills of our highly trained advisers make us uniquely qualified to help clients achieve the best outcome. We advise clients on their rights and responsibilities for a wide range of topics including employment, housing, relationship breakdown, legal and consumer rights, but by far the majority of people come to us for help with financial problems: benefits or debt.
Our specialist advisers can deal with creditors, or other agencies, on a clientâ€™s behalf and we will continue to work with the client for as long as they need us and we are the best source of help. If that changes, we will refer the client on to whoever is. Of the 700,000 people living in the county, over 30,000 reside in areas that are amongst the 10% most deprived in England. Gross weekly earnings for people who live and work in our county are 13% below those for England as a whole. We use our community links to proactively target groups of people who are economically disadvantaged and vulnerable to financial problems or exclusion.
38% of client issues are benefits-related We advised on over £7 million of annualised benefit income in 2011 Empowering disadvantaged people to make better choices and say “no” to exploitation 28% of our clients come to us for help because they are struggling with debt In 2011, the debt we advised on amounted to £40.5 million
When we help clients to obtain the correct benefits, we maximise their income and bring money into the county economy that can be spent in local businesses to sustain Lincolnshire jobs. When we help clients to deal with their immediate financial problems, we take the opportunity to educate them with the awareness and skills to manage their money effectively in future. By showing people how to budget and plan their spending, we put more money in their pockets each week. Money saved can be set aside to cover exceptional costs, giving people better value options than the punitive terms proffered by unscrupulous moneylenders and traders. Achieving the best outcomes for individual clients increases their independence and relieves pressure on county support services:
• by alleviating money-related stress that adversely affects individual wellbeing and the quality of family life, • helping people in low paid jobs or with care commitments to obtain the supplementary benefits they need to stay in work, • improving the prospects of children by helping to lift them out of poverty, • supporting stable family life by enabling people and families to manage the costs of running their homes and • helping older people, people with health problems or those living with disability to access the support they need to continue living independently and maintain the best possible state of health.
Giving Lincolnshire people a national voice
As part of our service we routinely collect client evidence that illustrates the nature and extent of the problems our clients are facing. We use what we learn to raise awareness of social issues, to tailor our service to the needs of Lincolnshire people, and to offer leadership in the identification of achievable solutions. Lincolnshire CAB are part of a nationwide membership network. Our membership organisation, Citizens Advice, provides operational support through information systems and training to assure the quality of the advice we give.
The aims of our service: To provide the advice people need for the problems they face To improve the policies and practices that affect peopleâ€™s lives
Our principles: To provide free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities To value diversity, promote equality and challenge discrimination
Being part of the network enables us to bring the benefit of national and regional initiatives to Lincolnshire and to ensure that the needs of Lincolnshire people are represented in national social policy work. Consistent with the service nationally, 75% of the people who work with us in Lincolnshire are volunteers who give their time freely for the benefit of their own communities.
Trusted advice delivered across the county
Reaching out to those who are vulnerable and isolated
The way in which advice is delivered is fundamental to engaging any clientâ€™s commitment to action. Many of the people we deal with are categorised as vulnerable and need customised support. Personal mobility, limited income or lack of transport opportunities are all potential barriers for people seeking help, particularly for older people. 21% of Lincolnshire people are above retirement age (compared to 16% for England) and latest projections indicate that this will rise to 31% by 2033 (compared to 23% for England).
With this ageing population set to increase the burden on local support services, we are part of the countywide Excellent Ageing initiative which aims to find new and sustainable ways of providing the services that contribute to quality of life and wellbeing. Responding to the challenge of meeting wide-ranging needs in remote areas, our Micro Advice Centres provide access to visiting advisers at community locations. Volunteers guide clients with less complex needs towards appropriate information or assist with online self-help tools including Citizens Advice website Adviceguide.org.uk.
Improving the economic wellbeing of people with health problems For one older couple referred to us by the Alzheimer’s Society, we were able to increase their income by £90 per week
Working with the service community We helped Mary, the 74-year old widow of a Royal Marine, to increase her weekly income by £43.90
The Advice on Prescription project, funded by NHS Lincolnshire, is co-ordinated by Boston CAB and delivered through a network of countywide welfare benefits specialist caseworkers. For people with care needs, health issues, or living with disability, help is essential to identify appropriate entitlements and to complete complex applications - or to appeal an unfair refusal. Clients are referred to us by healthcare professionals, community care workers, social services, housing associations and charities.
We also visit support groups for people with particular conditions to inform members of the types of help available and invite them to undergo a personal assessment. Home visits are an integral part of this project. In 2011, our caseworkers advised 2,483 people through this project. For every £1 of funding received, we returned £12.51 in benefits on behalf of clients. In evaluation, 93% of clients said they were better off financially afterwards. 93% of clients said the help received would allow them to continue living independently.
As part of a national project, supported by the Royal British Legion and the RAF Benevolent Fund, two full time caseworkers, based at Sleaford CAB, work with the serving and ex-service community across the county. Monthly outreach services and referral arrangements are in place at RAF bases and we also run preventative Money Awareness events. As we enter our 5th year of working on this project, we have already helped 1,400 clients and achieved £6 million in financial assistance through successful benefit applications, one-off grant payments and debt write-offs.
Helping to prevent homelessness We advised clients on over £5.23 million of priority debt in 2011 After a session on water bills, one tenant saved £728 a year just by changing tariff We revealed achievable annual energy bill savings of £400 for one tenant in the group
Lincolnshire CAB advised on £5,230,823 of priority debt in 2011 - that means debt which puts people and families directly at risk of losing their home or basic utility services to it. All county bureaux see clients at risk of homelessness through debt but we also work proactively to help people to stay in stable homes. Lincoln CAB’s court desk gives help to people facing repossession at the County Court. If a financial assessment shows that there is sufficient disposal income to realistically prevent repossession and the client wishes to try, our adviser will attend the hearing with the client and request a 28-day suspended possession order. The client is then referred to a bureau debt adviser. If repossession is granted, we can provide housing advice or refer to other support services.
South Holland CAB delivers pre-tenancy advice to local authority housing tenants who are often living independently for the first time. One-to-one sessions cover topics such as budgeting, banking, benefits and affordable credit, including the advantages of joining the Credit Union. East Lindsey CAB work with New Linx Housing Association to tackle financial exclusion. Sessions on how to save money and manage bills have proven popular additions to residents’ meetings, reaching 628 people between September 2010 and December 2011. At each of the 47 group sessions held so far, people have come forward requesting individual help - typically in managing arrears, adjusting to a change of circumstances (such as redundancy) or where to find help pending a benefits decision. People in crisis have been helped to obtain emergency loans or food parcels.
An example of how a payday loan for £1,000 at 2,096.46% APR affects household finances is a real eye-opener for clients Working with parents and families to help every child achieve their potential In the first 6 months, over 77% of those seeking help were new clients
Our work with families is significant in the delivery of Lincolnshire’s vision for every child in the county to achieve their potential. Through links with integrated services across the county, we tackle child poverty and its negative impact on future prospects, by helping families to achieve economic wellbeing.
In South Kesteven, a dedicated project outreach worker promotes the service at Children’s Centres and other family support delivery points. In the first six months to December 2011, 107 of the 139 families who attended appointments through the project had not used our service before.
In rural West Lindsey, the bureau works with schools and Children’s Centres. CAB caseworkers liaise with parent support advisers and link with SENCO as part of extended provision.
The outreach worker has helped clients with the application of 10 debt relief orders and 3 bankruptcies. Over 90% of client feedback rated the service as excellent.
Our volunteers contributed the equivalent of £1.7 million to the service in Lincolnshire in 2011
Citizens Advice has always believed in the value of involving volunteers in the delivery of our service. Every week volunteers contribute over 2,000 hours to our work in Lincolnshire - equivalent to a monetary value of £1.7 million for the year. Volunteer recruitment campaigns are run to fill a range of specific roles from administrative support to working directly with clients. From the beginning of the recruitment process, we make it clear to our volunteers what they can expect from us - that they will be treated with the same respect and dignity as our paid staff - and what is expected of them.
Sleaford CAB was awarded the Investors in Volunteers quality standard in 2011
We take care to ensure that volunteers are committed to upholding the aims and principles of Citizens Advice and possess the right competencies for the role they are taking on. Once recruited, they undergo a structured training programme with opportunities for further personal development and support in achieving independent qualifications such as NVQ’s. Generally, people find that the skills and experience they acquire while volunteering with Citizens Advice prepares them well should they later decide to move into paid employment.
Recruiting volunteers can be so rewarding - matching people with the right roles, supporting them through training and watching them discover the difference that they make. Some of our volunteers, when they join us, have the right skills but lack confidence. We provide a nurturing work environment that helps bring out people’s strengths. They learn to appreciate their own abilities and what they have to offer. It’s about trust really, when people feel valued they want to give more! If one of our volunteers has a skill that they think the bureau needs, they are happy to come forward with their ideas.” Karen Warner, Training Development Officer Sleaford CAB
Skilled and dedicated people getting involved in their own communities
I started by assisting at the weekly Micro Advice Centre that we host, helping people find what they needed to know or making appointments. With the number of people coming to us, the waiting time for appointments was getting longer, so I decided to do the training and become an adviser myself.” Rupert Francis, preacher at Queens Street Methodist Chapel, Horncastle and East Lindsey CAB volunteer
Acknowledgements With grateful thanks to the local authorities, without whose continuing support our work would not be possible: Lincolnshire County Council; Boston Borough Council; East Lindsey District Council; Lincoln City Council; North Kesteven District Council; South Holland District Council; South Kesteven District Council; West Lindsey District Council. Organisations we worked in partnership with in 2011: Lincolnshire NHS Primary Care Trust; Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation Trust; EMMA/Financial Inclusion Fund; Legal Services Commission; Big Lottery; Royal British Legion; RAF Benevolent Fund; New Linx Housing Trust; Age UK; A4e; Boston Mayflower Housing Association. This document was produced by a CAB volunteer and with the kind support of BJ’s Print and Design of Stamford.
_________________________________________________________________________________________ Published April 2012 Sources: Office of National Statistics (population estimates 2010, published July 2011) Dept. for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Indices of Multiple Deprivation (March 2011) Lincolnshire Research Observatory www. research-lincs.org.uk
To find out more about the work of Citizens Advice in Lincolnshire or to talk to us about working in partnership, please contact your nearest bureau:
Boston CAB The Len Medlock Voluntary Centre St Georgeâ€™s Road Boston PE21 8YB T. 01205 315915 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (registered charity no. 1111681)
South Holland CAB Council Offices Priory Road Spalding PE11 2XE T. 01775 766668 Email: email@example.com (registered charity no. 1113711)
East Lindsey CAB (Head Office) Unit 2, Meridian House 41 Eastgate Louth LN11 9NH T. 01754 761141 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (registered charity no. 1099145)
South Kesteven CAB (Administrative address) 39 High Street Stamford PE9 2BB T. 01780 763051 Email: email@example.com (registered charity no. 4399556)
Lincoln CAB Beaumont Lodge Beaumont Fee Lincoln LN1 1UL T. 01522 828611 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (registered charity no. 1086809)
West Lindsey CAB 26 North Street Gainsborough DN21 2HU T. 01427 810914 Email: email@example.com (registered charity no. 1128190)
Sleaford CAB Moneyâ€™s Yard Carre Street Sleaford NG34 7TW T. 01529 307900 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (registered charity no. 1119645)
For advice call 08444 111 444 or visit: www.adviceguide.org.uk For more information on the service visit: www.citizensadvice.org.uk