External Partners’ Newsletter Winter 2018
Client Use Digest:
There has been a year on year increase in people receiving advice – just over 6% on last year, with a rolling annual number of 20,934 people seeking advice. Added to this are some 39,146 visits to our website, and 1,178 consumer problems which are supported by the Citizens Advice national consumer service.
We are seeing more benefits problems than last year – 4% and this excludes Universal Credit, for which we are seeing 114% more problems than last year, reflecting the increased roll out of the new system across Salford in July and September. We are seeing about 20 people a week with Universal Credit problems and this is rising sharply.
Our debt work has remained steady over the last twelve months.
Housing enquiries continue to grow each year – with the current rate of increase being at 8 % year on year, some 20 cases each week – or about a thousand people each year (983 for last 12 months). Within this there has been a spike with social housing disrepair.
The wards from which most of our clients come remains fairly stable over the last few years – but Walkden South has jumped into our most numerous client ward over the last two quarters – joining Langworthy (first); Barton and Broughton (second) and Little Hulton and Walkden South (fourth).
We continue to observe and monitor a high number of clients being prosecuted for NHS prescription claims – which is currently running at around 200 a year. We are looking to do some joint work with local NHS services to help address this problem.
On the positive side, we note much improved working with bailiffs employed to recover council tax. This has followed the agreement of Salford City Council to sign up to the Citizens Advice and Local Government Association ‘Council Tax Protocol earlier in the year.
The government has announced a package of support to people claiming Universal Credit, and Citizens Advice nationally is being contracted by the DWP to provide this service for the first year of Universal Credit’s full roll out. Local services, are being funded by the national association to deliver this programme of support. The details of what this will look like are still being settled.
The national association of Citizens Advice has said:” This grant does not in any way constrain us from speaking critically about the policies of the DWP, the Government or the Secretary of State. All of our advocacy work is based on evidence and therefore would not be categorised as ‘unfair.’
We know that some DWP contracts have included clauses which prevent organisations from speaking out but that is not the clause in this agreement. If there was anything in the agreement that restricted our ability to speak out on behalf of our clients, we wouldn’t have signed it.”
Fair Funerals campaign and website:
We launched our new website to create a single gateway for people who need advice about arranging a funeral, and for hosting the list of local funeral directors that had made a commitment to operate under the fair funeral pledge, www.salfordfairfunerals.org.uk. We timed the launch of the website to fit with the launch of the City Council’s new ‘Salford Residents Funeral Service’ – where Salford City Council has arranged a basic funeral deal to be provided for any Salford residents at low cost with an undertaker they have commissioned to provide a low cost funeral. We were also pleased to be able to work with our local credit union to be able to arrange a savings product to support saving for a funeral. We are also grateful for a number of other charities that have given us permission to reference or copy their resources on this website. The next stage of this project will be to produce a summary paper version.
More broadly speaking the local fair funerals campaign was able to make a submission to the recent Competition and Markets Authority ‘scope’ review of the working of the funeral industry.
We continue to meet a couple of times a year, and if you would like to know more just contact us.
A new domestic violence project:
We are delighted to be able to announce a new domestic violence specialist project that will be beginning in January 2019, and is funded by a local generous funder. Details of how to access the new project will be available on our website in January.
Food Crisis Services in Salford:
We helped Salford Food Share Network complete an analysis of food bank and food club use in the City, just before Universal Credit was beginning to roll out. One in every twenty households in Salford used one of our seven food banks last year. In addition between 400 and 500 households are using one Salford’s five food clubs each week. Under the Feeding Salford plan – we are providing advice services to all Salford food crisis services. The plan has been redrafted for its second year, and priorities for the next year are the development of the next three food clubs, bringing the total to eight across the city.
Salford’s network of Red Boxes:
Following an earlier piece of research last year into period poverty we joined forces with the Food Share Network, and a number of local Red Box co-coordinators – with the aim of making sure all Salford’s high schools and colleges have a Red Box, we are very nearly there.
‘The Housing Question’ One Year on Report:
We are launching our one year on follow up report on our investigation and into the workings of the private rented housing market in Salford, along with our set of policy calls this month. The work is running over five years, and this is its review. A separate article gives much more detail.
As well, as the new report, we also submitted a response to the government’s consultation about much needed reform of security of tenure in the private rented sector.