Quarter 1 (Early Summer) Partners’ Briefing:

Client Trends:

We saw 4,214 clients between April 1st and June 30th – which is very similar to this time last year, and these 16,272 different problems, which is nearly 9% greater than this time last year. This suggests that broadly the same number of people are passing through the service (even as we moved back to more face-to-face working), but they have a greater number of problems. 

Within the quarter’s enquiry breakdown, we saw marked increases in tax enquiries (up some 94%), charitable support and food banks (up 54%), consumer advice (up 29%), and utilities (up 28%). The increase around tax problems is a high rise of a modest real number (186 people) and will be connected to the usual tax year cycle. The increased use of charitable support and food banks relates to almost 700 people and is something to worry about. This represents nearly 3,000 (once a seasonal adjustment is made) households a year how are not managing without intensive support from us – and where they will have exhausted that help which is available through the council’s assistance scheme. This rate of increase is more marked in Salford but is not out of keeping with the national trend. The increased enquiry level around utilities here, relates to billing and service problems with actual fuel debt included in our overall debt profile. We hope to publish some more detailed analysis of our debt work shortly.

The benefit gain figure for the quarter remains stable at £2.4 million, but still a little supressed, as the delays in benefit administration and appeals work continues to work through. There is £0.3millions in debt written off for clients to add to this.

The rate of growth in use of our website is beginning to stabilise, with some 32,137 users in the last quarter – with interestingly 303 using the site’s translations features. 

We supported twenty-nine different referring agencies, with 377 referred clients – a steady but modest increase.

Not shown in these figures – because of the way staffing resources were organised, as well as because of the low annual starting point, was the continued and noticeable additional high levels of enquiry around cancer diagnosis. 

New Macmillan Cancer Advice Partnership:

We were delighted to be able to launch our new cancer advice partnership working with our Macmillan colleagues – to set up a new service to provide advice for any families affected by cancer in Salford. The project started to take clients in June.

Advice in Food Banks Service:

As a part of our Feeding Salford work, we have been providing advice for people using food banks across the city for many years, and now thanks to a new partnership with The Trussell Trust, will be able to keep this programme of work running for another three years. The work is also to extend to the food bank session in Little Hulton. This all forms a part of the Feeding Salford plan – which recognises how important advice is to people in food crisis, as well as the role we can play in supporting that household through crisis into a more stable food position by joining one of Salford’s many food clubs.

Support to this summer’s Salford Summer of Fun programme:

We are delighted to be helping again this year’s Salford Summer of Fun (Holidays Activities and Food) programme. We are offering all families participating in the Salford scheme advice if they have any problems, a benefit and better of check, and help with school uniforms.

Tom Togher

July 2022.