Salford Citizens Advice

Winter Partners’ Briefing:

Client Demand Analysis:

Total client numbers in quarter 3 (3,804) were down as from the previous quarter, which is usual as Q3 includes the Christmas Holidays. The year-to-date figure is 3% down when compared to last year.

Issues raised were 17,008, which is up when compared to Q3 last year and shows a marked increase in the number of issues that each client is presenting with. In this year, it is 4.5 issues per client as per 3.7 issues per client last year. This is consistent with a general and pronounced trend of clients presenting increasingly complex advice needs over a greater number of advice categories.

Broughton is now the largest ward in terms of clients seeking advice – followed by Pendleton & Charlestown (which had previously been in joint place with Broughton), and then Weaste & Seedley.

Within advice categories there is continued evidence of ongoing cost of living pressures – with increases in the number of people seeking advice about financial services (54%), debt (28%) and charitable services (including food banks) (10%), as compared to the last quarter. There is a notable increase, more than doubling, in enquires relating to recent deaths.

Employment enquiries are down (24%), which is against the general trend over the last two years; and may be evidence of improving economic conditions.

We saw a spike in health and care issues in Q2, but this has now returned to a more normal level (but is 42% up as compared to this time last year). This may be evidence of an entrenched issue around access to health and care services.

As mentioned, the numbers of enquiries about a recent death have markedly increased, in absolute terms by some 187 extra death related enquiries when compared to the previous quarter. Year to year, there were 195 extra death related enquiries so far, an increase of 74%.

Benefit gains in Q3 were £2.7 million (some £6.2 million year to date) which is slightly up on last year.

External referral using our new online referral arrangements were 699 clients in the quarter, the largest referrer being the City Council, followed by Macmillan and then the Community Connectors (social prescribing) project.

Work with food banks & on food poverty:

We continued to develop our joint work with food banks across the city, ensuring that all people using a food bank in Salford have access to advice as well as emergency food.

We began a review of the way we will develop our work to combat food poverty in the city. At the moment this is managed through our sister charity Salford Food Share and the delivery of the Feeding Salford plan. The key delivery objectives of the plan: maintaining a stable food poverty sector response in the city, making sure there was advice for all people using food banks, creating a network of food clubs across the city, ensuring school holiday food provision, and work to encourage the take up of the healthy start scheme; have all been for the greatest part achieved. It is now a good time to think about how we plan the next stage of this work.

Launching a campaign to stop social landlords ripping out floor coverings in new tenancies:

We are about to launch a new campaign (having noted recently commissioned research on the subject) to encourage social landlords to stop ripping out floor coverings when they re-let properties. This issue was raised in our group empowerment work with homeless people, and as a part of our long-standing partnership work with our friends at Salford Loaves and Fishes. We hope to launch the campaign properly in the Spring. We are grateful that the Salford Mayor has agreed to give his support to the campaign.

The first review of our Macmillan Cancer project:

We were delighted to have had some excellent results in our first review of our new Macmillan project. Following the first year of the project’s establishment it was great to hear that Macmillan judged our performance in the project’s delivery to be excellent. The work of the project has recently been expanded to include supporting the Christie’s outreach at Salford Royal.

Refresh of our cost-of-living section on our website:

We reviewed our cost-of-living advice on our website. Any organisations that would like to link to this section via their own websites are very welcome to contact us to discuss this. We welcomed the news of a grant from the government’s special cost of living fund to help develop this work, and we plan to have produced some new online web resources for the spring.

Tom Togher

February 2024.