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Paper 5 - 28 January 2005 Meeting

HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION

28 January 2005

CITIZENS’ ADVICE BUREAUX FUNDING

Report by the Director

________________________________________________________________________

RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) That member authorities recognise:

Ž The importance of the service provided by Citizens’ Advice Bureaux

Ž Local authority funding cannot continue to increase beyond the rate of inflation;

(2) That Citizens’ Advice and local Citizens’ Advice Bureaux consider:

Ž Cost reduction

Ž Income enhancement from customers and non-local authority bodies which benefit from their services;

(3) That member authorities exchange information on the use of Service Level Agreements with Citizens’ Advice Bureaux; and

(4) That this Association consults the LGA at national level about experience elsewhere.

________________________________________________________________________

INTRODUCTION

1. East Hampshire raised the question of Citizens’ Advice Bureaux (CABx) funding under the ‘five minute slot’ at the last meeting. As a result the Chief Financial Officers of member authorities have undertaken a survey of CABx funding by local authorities with results given at Annex 1.

RESULTS OF THE SURVEY

2. Member authorities pledged grants and subsidies totally around £3m in the current financial year. This tallies with a survey by Kent authorities showing that "local authorities are required to provide an annual grant in excess of £50,000 for every CAB in their area". Over 90% of local CABx funding comes from the local authority. There has been a particular problem with recent changes in national lottery funding. These have resulted in a significant increase in costs this year in East Hampshire.

THE CITIZENS’ ADVICE SERVICE

3. The Chairman and Director have met Charlotte Burrows, Business Management Consultant for Citizens’ Advice South East, part of the National Association of CABx. Charlotte provided an overview of the benefits of CABx, current developments and the services of the national Citizens’ Advice body. This is reproduced in Annex 2. Charlotte plans to attend the Association meeting.

NEXT STEPS

4. This report provides a quick response to members’ request for information. The recommendations set out the result of a preliminary consideration by the Chief Executives’ Group.

NICK GOULDER
Director

Date: 10 January 2005
Annex: 2
Contact: Nick Goulder - 023 8068 8431, E-mail hiow@eastleigh.gov.uk

ANNEX 1

 

HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT COUNCILS’ GRANTS TO

CITIZENS’ ADVICE BUREAUX 2004/2005

Local Authority

Grant

Comments

Basingstoke

Grant of £151,500 to the Basingstoke CAB.

Grant of £38,100 to the Tadley CAB

Additional capital contribution £3,000 to Tadley CAB for a building extension

East Hampshire

£202,456 in 2004/2005 which will rise to around £229,600 in 2005/06

Also provides accommodation which is valued at £24,150 for 2004/05

Eastleigh

£147,000

Includes rent, salaries, insurance, rates, telephone costs etc but excludes building maintenance grant

Fareham

£87,420

Gosport

£61580

Plus £5000 rent

Hampshire County Council

Provides annual funding for NACAB southern region. For 2004/05 this was £96,000 and covered the following:

Specialist support for welfare benefits Advice (c. £50,000)

Staff and management committee training (c. £11,000)

Specialist support for employment advice (c. £35,000)

In addition, Social Services purchase advisory services from many of the local officers on behalf of clients. During 2004/05 the value of these purchases ranges from c.£10,000 to c. £20,000 for individual local CABx

Hart

Yateley CAB - £80,600

Fleet CAB - £81,800

District Council funds running of CAB payrolls.

Ž 21 year lease for Yateley at £0.01 per year – worth £43k. CAB sublets and keeps income – pays own utils and internal maintenance

Ž 10 year lease for Fleet (part of Civic Offices) – not recharged for water rates – no rental received and worth £22k SLA includes 2 car spaces in car park

Havant

£141,200

Isle of Wight

£128,000

New Forest

Grant for 2004/05 was £234,206. The level of grant for 2005/06 is likely to be in the region of £242,000.

In addition NF provides some officer support particularly in the area of ICT.

Portsmouth

£271,000. Linked to a three year SLA

 

In addition PCC provides accommodation for the offices in Portsmouth and Cosham. Value of contribution £31,862.00

Rushmoor

Grant £166,960

Rent relief £37,000

Southampton

Grant £310,418

Test Valley

£215,434.

This split between Andover (£135,740) and Romsey (£79,694)

Specific breakdowns as follows:

Andover

Revenue Grant 24,130
Salaries 79,610
Rent 20,000
Outreach Project 12,000
135,470

Romsey

Revenue Grant 20,830
Salaries 42,364
Rent 16,500
79,694

Winchester

£169,063 broken down as follows:-
Winchester CAB £127,158
Bishops Waltham CAB £40,615
Waterlooville CAB £1,290.

ANNEX 2

THE BENEFITS OF A LOCAL CITIZENS ADVICE SERVICE

Service to Clients

Citizens Advice Bureaux offer a vital service to communities throughout the country offering Free, Independent and Confidential Advice as well as ensuring that Social Policy issues are identified and action taken to highlight them are taken for the benefit of our communities. Each of these tenants is a cornerstone of the service we provide and enables us to have a unique relationship with the clients we see.

Core services Bureaux provide are basic generalist advice in: Housing, Debt, Welfare Benefits, Relationships (e.g. divorce/bereavement), immigration, employment, consumer and health although many Bureaux now extend well beyond these areas and operate at a casework and specialist level.

Each Citizens Advice Bureau is obligated as a condition of membership to conduct a Client survey each year and this is compared with Community Surveys read in conjunction with information received from the Office of National Statistics. Citizens Advice Bureaux use this information to continually review the service they are providing the local community and how this can be improved.

Quality Marked Advice

Each Bureau operates to strict Membership and Standards Guidelines and is audited tri-annually by Citizens Advice and annually by the Legal Services Commission.

Strict requirements are in place to govern the competencies and knowledge required by all advisers in a Bureau and all advice to clients is sourced and reference to the Citizens Advice electronic information system known as EIS. Further to this all Bureaux are required to have an Advice Session Supervisor who must be available at all times whilst advice is being supplied for when advisers require a second opinion and to check case sheets.

As a result of this practice and subscription to Citizens Advice, Bureaux are given insurance against wrongful or incomplete advice to clients and funders can be assured of a high level of service to clients.

E Government

Citizens Advice is regarded as a trusted intermediary by the national government and has signed up to a key role in ensuring that the governments E Government work does not disadvantage key parts of our communities. Virtual private networks are currently being installed into all our Bureaux across the country and Wales so that clients will be able to return forms via the internet, update applications and to track the process of claims with the assistance of trained advisers.

Social Capital

Research by Brighton University has recently highlighted the amounts of revenue secured by CABx by their work in increasing appropriate benefit forms submitted to Local Authorities. Increases in the amounts of benefits claimed increases the amount of funding then returned by National Government to Local Government. Whilst figures will vary from Bureau to Bureau and Local Authority to Local Authority the figures are clear that CABx are good value for money, provide an important boost to the local economy and tackle social exclusion.

Capacity Building

CABx contribute to capacity building in a number of very important ways:

Ž Through the ability of Bureaux to identify benefits for clients who can then go and release their income in the local economy

Ž Through reducing the number of evictions and homelessness through early intervention, particularly in debt scenarios

Ž Through reducing the burden on health care professions through the support given to mentally ill, depressed and anxious clients

Ž By the training of volunteers from the local community who often then go on to paid employment

Ž By the training and roles given to older members of the community in CABx which contribute to a more active and healthy elderly community.

Ž Through the sourcing of project funding to support the development of time limited work in local communities – so increasing the economy within the local community by the employment of paid staff to manage them.

Ž Through the provision of outreach services CABx assist in the tackling of social exclusion caused by taking services to clients and therefore overcoming localised public transport issues. This is particularly important in rural communities such as those prevalent in Hampshire.

Social Policy

As one of the two key aims and principles of the Citizens Advice Service all Bureaux must undertake Social Policy action on behalf of their clients. Social Policy action can mean a number of things – it may mean running or taking part in local or national campaigns on issues such as rent deposits or NHS dentistry or it may mean working with Local Authorities or other statutory services to improve the running of local services based upon the feedback and experiences of our clients. Key aspects of Social Policy work are raising awareness of issues within the community – often through meetings or letters with Members of Parliament or Chief Officers or through publicity campaigns in local papers and the media.

As CABx are politically neutral CABx are not permitted to enter into party political debates but are at all times to look to the information collated through our client contacts and to aim to identify how changes can be made to ensure people are not suffering due to lack of information, ignorance or injustice. This is the proactive and preventative aspect of our work which all Bureaux contribute to on an ongoing basis through the submission of Bureau Evidence Forms to Citizens Advice Central Office. Citizens Advice nationally uses this information to lobby the government and opposition parties to support certain bills and to inform discussions of our client’s experiences.

Recent national campaigns have been on the lack of availability of NHS Dentistry, School Uniforms, Doorstep selling, Debt and Rent Deposits.

Statistics

In order to monitor and develop our services and social policy work all Bureau are required to maintain statistics on the number of clients seen and on the areas that they have advised upon. Commitment to E Government has meant that all Bureaux will soon be collating all their statistics through a new computer system called CASE. CASE will enable statistics between Bureaux to be more comparable and reliable and also for Bureau to tailor the statistics they are gathering to the needs of their funders.

Most Local Authorities see CASE as an opportunity to recognise issues at a ward level so that services from local government can be honed more effectively. It is also the way in which we hope to be able to demonstrate more accurately the level and value of the services we are offering.

Partnership and collaborative working

Relationships between Citizens Advice Bureau and Local Government are changing particularly with the advent of E Government and CASE. Citizens Advice Bureau are now better placed to demonstrate value for money and to assist Local Authorities and other agencies in delivering much needed services to our local communities whilst retaining independence.

Effective referral and signposting, dovetailing services and working in active collaboration with other agencies now means that limited resources are used more efficiently and to the maximum potential.

Flagship Bureaux – Centres of Excellence and Innovation

The increased use of computerisation across the service and the capitalisation by some Bureau of all that this technology can provide is increasing the development of Citizens Advice Bureaux as centres of excellence and innovation, both within the sector and within the organisation.

Providing Bureaux are able to create capacity to develop, the opportunities for taking our service out to clients and isolated communities are increasing. Many of our rural services are now mobile either through use of specially fitted vehicles or through increased use of home visiting scheme and outreaches.

Access to advice, is also becoming more consistent and widely available through websites such as Adviceguide (www.adviceguide.org.uk) and through local Bureaux links. Telephone advice itself is being prioritised with some Bureaux fulfilling contracts to provide casework through this medium.

Within the South East, technological advancements in video conferencing are currently being piloted by a consortium of Bureaux in Hampshire. Video booths are being fitted in several community centres, town centres and agencies across Hampshire where clients can enter and contact a Bureau and obtain face to face advice from an adviser based in a Bureau elsewhere in the county. This list is not exhaustive.

All of these developments are seen as ways in which we can make our service more accessible. Each development is complementary to our other methods of service delivery and is aimed at allowing clients a choice as to how they can approach us that is most appropriate to their needs.

Services of Citizens Advice National Body

Bureaux receive a number of services from Citizens Advice as part of the subscription that they pay. This list is not exhaustive but they include:

Ž Technical and consultancy support

Access to the Specialist Support Services Telephone Consultancy

Access to the Bureau Management Consultancy Line

Access to the Fundraising Consultancy Line

Referrals from the National Volunteers Recruitment Line

Consultancy from Legal Services Consultancy Team at Citizens Advice

Assistance from Business Management Consultants

Assistance and Information from National Development Team Officers

Cabnet Development and Implementation Officers (IT/CASE/E Gov)

Bureau Training Support Officers

Ž Use of and updating of the Electronic Information System

Ž Use of BMIS – The Bureau Management Information System

(available on disk or via internet) and updated monthly

Ž Professional Indemnity Insurance for Advice provision by ADS Insurance

Ž Employment Consultancy and representation by Bates Wells and Braithwaite’s solicitors

Ž Quality marking by the Legal Services Commission

Ž Regular Audits and Feedback

Ž Access to apply for Bureau Grants from Citizens Advice

Ž Competency based training for new advisers, managers and supervisors and training packs for core training courses

Ž Annual Conferences/ Cluster group support and briefings

Charlotte Burrows
Business Management Consultant
Tel: 02380273355 Ext 239

The Citizens Advice service helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing information and advice, and by influencing policymakers.

Citizens Advice is an operating name of The National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux. Information and Advice www.adviceguide.org.uk

Last update: 19/01/2005
Author: Nick Goulder, Director

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