Partners’ Briefing: Autumn 2019
Quarter 1’s (April to June) numbers:
In the first quarter we advised 5,116 people, who had 14,715 problems. We secured £3.35 million in extra benefit, along with £0.5 million in debts written off. The rolling annual client number was 20,211 – remaining consistent over the year. The mix of enquiries remains stable – apart from the continued upwards movement in the number of people affected by Universal Credit problems (and less ‘legacy’ benefit problems). We supported in the general service some 2,041 UC problems this quarter – an increase of 78% on the quarter. This is not including the new help to claim service.
Help to claim service:
The new help to claim service supported an additional 901 clients, and secured an additional £2.9 million in the first quarter of its operation. This service supports people as they make their new Universal Credit claims, it allows us to have Citizens Advice staff working in local job centres.
Programme of child poverty work:
The bureau has supported our local council and other local partners develop and deliver a scheme whereby all children on free school meals received a £30 food grant at the beginning of the summer holiday. We also supported the development of play and activity schemes in primary schools and community groups. We run this work through the Salford Food Share network.
We also operate, in partnership with a local charity, a free school uniform scheme – which by now has supported over 100 families and 218 children with free school uniforms. We do this every year.
We are in discussions with a number of other local charities to see if we can set up a school uniform exchange scheme in Salford and would love to hear from anyone involved in similar schemes elsewhere – you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The bureau has created a separate arm’s length charity to develop our food poverty work. This has supported the development of food clubs in each of our eight local communities. Each week over 500 families can support their food needs to the worth of something like £15 a week. They are also able to get free nappies and sanitary products through our food clubs through a local commercial arrangement.
We have also supported our staff develop the Salford Red Box project – with the support of our local NHS, which now means that every school in the city has a Red Box – freely available sanitary products to make sure no girl or young women loses any time from their education through period poverty.
EU Citizens Settlement Scheme:
The Citizens Advice service across Greater Manchester is co-operating to deliver a city regional service to help anyone having difficulties in registering for the current Home Office European Union Citizens Settlement Scheme. You can get initial help at any local bureaux – and if necessary we can refer you on to a specialist – who can see you in Salford. We are publishing more detailed information about this service regularly from now on.
Celebrating 80 years of Citizens Advice:
The Citizens Advice service is 80 this year – September 4, one day after the declaration of war – Eccles, Salford, Swinton and Walkden Citizens Advice Bureaux were established under the aegis of the then Manchester and Salford Service for Social Services, as a part of 200 new emergency advice bureaux. We are celebrating throughout the year.
Damage to our office at Salford Royal / Hope Library:
Rain damage to the roof of the building we share with Hope Library has meant that we have had to temporally move out of the building, until the roof can be made safe and repaired. We have been able to re-locate all service provision so there is very little disruption to people using our services. We were grateful to Langworthy Cornerstone and to Age UK Salford for their help in the first few days after the problem.