Citizens Advice Salford Summer Early Summer Partner’s Briefing.

Client trends:

The total number of clients in quarter 4 as compared to quarter 3 increased by 9.7%, to 4,458 unique clients, presenting with 16,421 different problems (up 10% on quarter 3).

We saw a noticeable increase in housing problems (3,054 problems against 2,506 in the previous quarter) over the period. Most of this activity was associated with a steep rise in private sector housing issues – increased rents, cost of living pressures on landlords as well as their tenants, as well as increases in disrepair. This price pressure in the private sector housing market is likely to be worsened as the number of smaller landlords reducing over time because of the structural changes to the marketplace – such as higher borrowing costs, a reduction in the tax allowance for capital gains, etc.

Benefit and Tax Credit enquiries rose by 31%, with Universal Credit rising by 22%. Debt enquires rose by 10%. These trends are evidence of a continued worsening of the economic position – as well as the continuing impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

The steady upwards movement in employment enquiries, following a protracted period of stability, (569 v. 519), although modest, is evidence of the beginning of a tightening of the labour market. 

Over the quarter 605 referrals were made through our online referral portal, from 27 different agencies.

Our website had 26,496 hits during the quarter, that’s just under 300 people using our website every day.

The wards with the greatest number of clients were Pendleton & Charlestown, Broughton, Weaste & Seedley.

Advice partnership with Salford Food Bank:

We are delighted to be resuming the advice service we provide to people using food banks in Salford. Working with our Trussell Trust partners in Salford we have been able to re-fund advise sessions in food banks so that anyone using a food bank in Salford will also be able to receive advice about the problem they are facing. This was also a key ambition of the Feeding Salford Plan.

A new service in partnership with Christie at Salford Royal:

With the support of Macmillan, we have been able to improve our offer for people living with cancer to include a service for people using The Christie at Salford Radiotherapy service.

A new national telephony platform:

Along with the rest of the Citizens Advice Service, we moved onto the new national telephony platform – Connect during the last quarter. There was very little disruption to services during this change. It should mean that over the next few months and years, improvements to the way we can manage telephone and email traffic will mean improvements to our clients’ experience of accessing advice. 

Contract to deliver the Help to Claim – Universal Credit Service:

We are pleased to confirm that the contract to deliver the help to claim service has been renewed for a further year. Salford is one of about 50 delivery partners nationally for this service, giving us a very valuable expertise in Universal Credit.

Private Sector Housing Advice Project refunded:

We are delighted to be able to report that The Booths Charities has agreed to refund our specialist private housing advice adviser for a further three years. We are very grateful indeed. As mentioned above, the private sector housing market is under a great deal of pressure for all sorts of reasons, and is a very real social problem in Salford and further afield. This service, along with our Greater Manchester Legal Aid partnership means that a basic level of housing advice remains available for people in Salford.

Tom Togher

May 2023.