Quarter 2 (Late Summer) Partners’ briefing:
We saw 4,144 clients during this quarter, covering July, August and September, with 17,333 different problems – which is broadly the same as the previous quarter. To date during this financial year, we have advised 8,358 clients. We saw significant increases in the work around financial services (up 67%), education (mostly disputes, up 54%), gender related violence and hate crime (up 53%), bereavement enquiries have maintained an upwards climb over the last few quarters and are up again this quarter (26%), so too is health and community care (up 17%). Financial gains along with other gains amounted to £1.8 million, of which some 46% relates to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and 7% in extra Attendance Allowance – meaning over just under £1 million extra benefit for Salford relating into funds saved to the council and NHS in the form of extra care costs further in future years.
Referrals to charities and food banks for emergency assistance remains high at 646 households over the quarter – but is comparable to the last quarter. Although the impact of the government’s emergency cost-of-living support began to be felt in this quarter, and in any event because it covers the summer we see less impact of high energy costs, which can quickly translate into food insecurity. So, this should actually be a cause of concern.
Our busiest wards were Pendleton & Charlestown (first), Broughton (second), with Barton & Winton and Weaste & Seedley (joint third).
We have, along with bureaux across the whole country seen prolonged pressure around PIP claiming (relating to the extra costs of living pressures for people with disabilities) as well as food bank and charity (covering fuel cost support) referrals. Nationally pressure on fuel debts as well as council tax arrears is building sharply. For us in Salford the pressure around fuel debt is focused on costs for people using prepayment meters. The pressure on debt advice locally has also been made worse by some doubt over the re-funding arrangements around our money advice contract. This, and the generally worsening debt environment is likely to be impacting adversely on local council tax receipts.
Support for the Salford (school) holiday activities and food programme:
We were delighted to take part in the Salford programme of school holiday activities and food work – as we do every year, as well as being members of the programme’s steering group. This work forms a part of our broader programme of food security and food poverty work – in partnership with our sister charity, Salford Food Share – and the delivery of the Feeding Salford plan.
Healthy Start Scheme Take up campaign:
The data set available for the scheme is no longer being produced on a four weekly rolling basis which makes it more difficult to assess the effectiveness of take up work locally. That said, the last set of data – running up to March would suggest a marked increase of around 16% in take up for the scheme in Salford. We also welcome the news that Sainsbury’s have agreed to match the scheme by an additional £2 a week. We are – along with other members of the Greater Manchester Food Security Action Network working with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Mayor to get other supermarkets to follow suit.
A programme of training for front line workers has started, delivered by Citizens Advice services across Greater Manchester – and funded by 10GM.
Cancer Screening Awareness work:
Just to remind you all that we are running a (it is hoped five year) programme of work to improve the awareness of cancer screening in Salford. We are having ‘empowered conversations’ with clients through the advice process, especially when advising around certain health and disability benefit issues.
National Citizens Advice cost of living data sets:
The National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux are holding monthly briefings on the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. The regularly produced data sets show the impact of the crisis on six core sets of advice enquiries. These core indicators of the developing crisis include Personal Independence Payment, Energy, Energy Debts, Charitable and Food Bank referrals, Council Tax Arrears, Prepayment Meter -people not being able to afford to top up. You can see the picture for yourself at https://public.flourish.studio/story/1634399/
Cost of living crisis – a new special section on our website:
Many organisations have over the last weeks produced detailed information and support for people facing cost of living problems, and we will be producing a page on our website to give more detailed and focused advice. You will be able to access this page at https://salfordcab.org.uk/cost-of-living/