Partners’ Briefing:                                                Spring 2020

Service use figures:

In the 3rd quarter we saw 5,283 clients, an increase on this time last year of 11%. The rolling total for the last four quarters is 21,312 clients, a year to year increase of 3%. This does not include the additional 2,563 clients supported though the help to claim service since the service’s launch in April.

Debt issues showed a modest decline on the quarter – 4%, at 3,462 issues, but since this time last year, debt issues have risen by 24%. It is noticeable that debt enquiries did not drop more in quarter 3 – as is usually the case, when creditors tend towards greater debt forbearance as we approach Christmas. This suggests a very significant upwards trend.

Employment enquiries are showing a 12% increase on this this time last year – which is a steady trend, and is probably connected to a worsening employment market.

Housing enquiries are 43% higher (at 1,282 in this quarter) compared to this time last year. This is being driven by increases in private rented tenancy problems in the greatest part. It suggests an increased pressure on homelessness services.

Compared to this time last year, benefit issues (using the combined figure for Universal Credit and other benefits) shows a drop of 7%, at some 7,312 enquiries in the last quarter. We think this is because of the success of the help to claim service ensuring that early advice is preventing greater problems further in people’s claims.

We saw a 14% increase in immigration advice on the quarter, which is a 113% increase over the last four quarters. This is almost entirely due to Brexit – with something approaching 280 people seeking advice in EU immigration status issues in the last quarter.

Benefit gains in quarter 3 were £3,054,000 (with the total for the financial year so far being just short of £10 million), and debts written off for the year so far at £1.6 million.

Geographically, the Ordsall, Walkden North, and Swinton North wards are showing the most marked increases in client use.

Red Box Project:

We have been delighted to have been able to work with a group of our women staff who have been the organisers of the Salford Red Box project. The project is now been converted into a project to support food clubs, hostels and potentially sports venues – now that a new centrally funded scheme for schools opened this month. We have circulated information about how schools access the scheme through the regular schools mailing – but if you need to know more, please just let me know.

Help to Claim:

The National Citizens Advice service is currently in active discussions with the government about refunding a second year of the project.  We hope that this will mean no, or little interruption into the local service’s arrangements.

Salford’s seventh food club opened:

Working with Salford Food Share – we are delighted to be supporting Salford’s seventh food club – which opened recently at Langworthy Cornerstone. The food club is available for local people in food hardship and will be available on Tuesdays for the time being.

 EU (Citizens) Settlement Scheme:

Citizens Advice service across Greater Manchester are supporting people who need extra help with making an application to the European Citizens Settlement Scheme. The official deadline requires existing European Citizens (other than Irish Citizens) to have applied for settled status before the end of the year. People can get help for simple issues at their local bureau – or through a Gateway Centre. More complex issues can be resolved by going to the special expert drop in service at Salford City Bx – every other Wednesday (or alternate Tuesdays at Manchester Town Hall). Check our website for full details.

Joint Pension Credit take up campaign with Age UK Salford:

Throughout the autumn we were running a Pension Credit take-up campaign with our partners Age UK Salford. We will be coming back to this again later in the year – especially around the issue of how changes in TV Licences might impact upon the benefit’s take up.

Domestic Abuse and Coercive control project refunded:

We are delighted to be able to announce that our project providing specialist advice to people facing domestic abuse or coercive control has been refunded for the next two years. We have also recently run a service wide coercive control – especially within the context of giving debt advice, awareness re-fresher training programme. We hope to increase and develop this provision over the next months – and will be speaking to a range of partners about what the project’s future might look like.


Tom Togher

January 31, 2020.