West Berkshire Council

Start date: 2017-11-27
End date: 2018-01-10
Results: 2018-03-09

Budget Proposal 2018/19: Citizens Advice West Berkshire

This is one of three budget proposals for 2018/19. You can view the full list online.


Background

We have a service level agreement with Citizens Advice West Berkshire (CAWB), to provide services for people in the district needing support and guidance with a range of financial advice relating to:

  • Debt worries
  • Benefit enquiries
  • Housing and employment problems
  • Concerns about consumer or tax issues

CAWB also provides:

  • Advice on legal matters
  • Advice on immigration
  • Advice on family and personal matters
  • Support for carers

CAWB currently run drop-in sessions three days a week, and their website offers a wide range of advice and information. *Face-to-face support is available to anyone who requires advice.  There are 27 advisors, all of whom are volunteers. There are 1.5 FTE paid caseworkers along with a small number of other paid staff.    

CAWB provided support to approximately 3,500 clients last year.

*Information updated 8 December 2017


Legislation requirements

The advice and support services provided by CAWB are not statutory in nature. This proposal does not therefore conflict with any legislation.

CAWB will operate within their own governance framework, but from a legislative perspective there is nothing which requires us to provide the services offered by CAWB.


What are we proposing?

To reduce the annual core funding to CAWB from £120,000 to £40,000 for 2018/19.


What do we think the impact will be?

We are aware that Universal Credit will be introduced by the government in December 2017,  and that this will initially impact on new claimants and individuals whose circumstances change. The Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) is expecting councils to provide appropriate money management support and advice, although it is expected that the roll out of this new, all-encompassing benefit, will impact on CAWB as well.

CAWB may have to reassess the range of advice and support that they currently provide, and it may be that people needing advice will have to wait longer for an appointment. CAWB will also have to continue to liaise with the DWP over their concerns for managing clients in receipt of Universal Credit.

Whilst it is difficult to estimate the number of individuals who will receive Universal Credit in the first phase, what is known from the early pilots is that people who are referred by the DWP to local authorities for money management advice and support, do tend to present with more complex debt management issues. Resolving these problems takes considerably more time than the two hours per client that the DWP are able to provide funding for. This could potentially impact on CAWB, who have the expertise to manage clients with these complex debt management issues.

We are aware that CAWB have reduced the footprint of their office space at Broadway House, Newbury and have other proposals in place to reduce their costs.  It is also understood that reserves will be used to support day to day activity.
 

Please refer to the pdf icon Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) [338kb] for more details.


What else have we considered?

We have met with CAWB and it is clear that if this proposal proceeds, they will have to reconsider the scope of the support and advice that they can offer. The roll out of Universal Credit will impact initially on new claimants or where an existing claimant's circumstances change. However, at this time it is difficult to estimate the number of claimants that will be impacted by Universal Credit.


Why we want your views

We would like to hear from you as to how this proposal could potentially impact on you and on the wider community. In particular, we would be interested in any views you have on how we can minimise the impact of this proposed change.

Please note: Twitter and Facebook posts will not be considered as a valid response. Please use the link below to take part in the consultation.


All feedback and recommendations will be considered by the Executive Committee on 15 February 2018. Following this, a final decision will be made at the Full Council meeting on 1 March 2018

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