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Outreach Service (360G-EssexCF-A481273)

To help support outreach and weekly advice surgeries in Burnham-on-Crouch and Southminster over 3 years

£9,000

05 Jun 2018

Grant details
Amount Applied For 9000
Amount Awarded 9000
Award Date 2018-06-05T00:00:00+00:00
Beneficiary Location: Country Code GB
Beneficiary Location: Geographic Code E01021880
Beneficiary Location: Geographic Code Type LSOA
Beneficiary Location: Name Maldon 008E
Grant Programme: Code 2017/18
Grant Programme: Title Turncole Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund
Impact Category Advance people's physical and mental health, wellbeing and safety
Last Modified 2019-04-29T00:00:00+00:00
Planned Dates: Duration (months) 36
Planned Dates: End Date 2021-09-30T00:00:00+00:00
Planned Dates: Start Date 2018-09-01T00:00:00+00:00
Primary age group Adults (26 – 65)
Primary beneficiary Local residents
Primary ethnicity White British
Primary issue Counselling/Advice/Mentoring
Recipient Org: Charity Number 7582667
Recipient Org: Company Number 07582667
Recipient Org: Description Our aims and principles We offer free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone in the Maldon District on their rights and responsibilities. We aim to provide the advice people need for the problems they face and improve the policies and practices that affect their lives. We value diversity, promote equality and challenge discrimination. Our activities Citizens Advice is where residents can turn in any crisis. We are able to provide information and advice on the first day that someone contacts us, usually face-to-face or by telephone during 5 full days a week. This can be at many levels: • providing information which empowers the client to resolve their own problem; • giving full advice and taking action on the client's behalf if either the subject is complex or they lack confidence or ability; • making appointments with our subject specialists for high level support and negotation with third parties or representation, for example, at tribunal hearings. Breadth of advice • Welfare Benefits • Debt and Money • Housing • Employment • Family • Consumer • Legal • Immigration • Health • Education • Discrimination • Tax Our advice is given across all subject areas which is essential as most problems in life do not stand alone. For example, the loss of a job is likely to lead to money worries, problems paying rent or a mortgage and tensions at home. Therefore a client approaching us about his employment issue may also need advice on debt, housing, benefits, job searching, and relationships. In the Maldon District, Citizens Advice is unique in being able to offer this breadth of advice. Preventative advice As well as responding to clients existing problems we try to stop problems developing. By helping people with budgeting and managing money we increase confidence and prevent future indebtedness. We actively work with other agencies to make this opportunity known to residents who would benefit from this help and will be extending this into schools and youth groups. FCA regulated debt advice We are the only agency in the Maldon District allowed to provide debt advice as none other is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. There has been a recent increase in demand for this service, mirrored by rising problems with welfare benefits. Research shows that debt is frequently a cause of mental health problems and vice-versa and this is reflected in a large proportion of clients who seek our help. In 2016 we had £850,174 of unmanageable debt written off for clients through various insolvency solutions. In addition, we helped a far greater number of clients manage their debts through negotiated repayment arrangements. Specialist advice in Welfare Benefits and Homelessness Prevention The introduction of Universal Credit in Maldon (replacing many of the existing means-tested benefits) has had an impact on residents. The time from the claim being made to a first payment is usually 7 weeks or more which for someone with no money is very challenging. Any resulting rent arrears immediately puts someone at serious risk of homelessness. The benefit cap was reduced in the autumn of 2016 affecting residents, particularly those with three or more children due to their child tax credits. This cap means that a claimant's housing benefit can be drastically cut - again putting the home at risk. These residents need considerable help and support from our homelessness prevention specialist. The administration of disability benefits continues to be a major concern: medical assessments are not carried out by doctors and the impact of a claimant's condition on their ability to work is not properly considered. This means that we have to help people through a prolonged process of mandatory reconsideration and then appeal. For claimants with mental health problems this is particularly stressful and they need considerable support from our specialist advisers over several months. Our success rate at tribunals is over 80% which demonstrates the shortcomings of the system. In 2016 we gained £1,871,973 in additional income for residents to help with essential living expenses and care needs by helping them obtain the benefits to which they were entitled. Specialist Employment Advice Employment levels are currently quite high in the Maldon District. This includes a large number of people who have low paid, part-time jobs and those on zero-hours contracts. The uncertainty of these contracts makes it very difficult for employees to manage their finances. Many of the clients who come to us with employment problems are working for very small firms who pay little heed to employment legislation and good practice, whether by intent or due to ignorance. Wherever possible, while making sure they are fully informed, we encourage employees to try to resolve problems informally and by negotiation to avoid risking unemployment. In some cases where this is the only option, we assist clients who are going to a tribunal. This employment advice has become particularly important since the introduction of tribunal fees and withdrawal of legal aid. Literacy and IT literacy Many of our clients struggle with basic reading and writing and need our help with important correspondence. This problem with literacy is prevalent in all age groups from school leavers to the elderly. 19.4% of the working age population of the Maldon District have no qualifications. Life for many becomes more challenging as, increasingly, applications and other formalities have to be done on-line. Although those without a computer can use one in the library, this is often not sufficient to enable them carry out the necessary task. We are able to assist with on-line help as well as increasing a client's familiarity with the process for the future. Value of our volunteers Our advice service is provided by 4 full time equivalent staff, 42 dedicated volunteers, plus 8 Trustee Board members, who together provide an estimated £403,000 worth of donated hours each year. This means that the value of every pound that we raise in funding is multiplied many times.
Recipient Org: Web Address http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/maldon-district
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