David Andy from Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) was welcomed to the meeting. The background to the advice services being provided in the South Area were noted, with this first established as a joint venture between CAB and Barnsley Council, with the service more recently being wholly delivered by CAB following them being the preferred organisation at the conclusion of a tender exercise.
Members were made aware that a number of targets had been met, and greatly exceeded, such as number of clients seen, and amount of benefit gained. This success had generated a number of issues, including sessions being oversubscribed, with long waiting times with a number of clients unable to be seen. As a result the Area Council had requested for a number of options to be considered to respond to the demand.
The circulated report provided a number of options, which included the provision of additional services, and also the engagement of an apprentice to assist capacity. In addition to the options circulated, Members were also made aware of a further option to provide an additional session per week, provided by a generalist advisor. This was expected to cost £4,972 per year.
Members discussed the value for money of the service, with £12.60 net gain for every £1 invested. This rose to over £28 when undertaken an analysis of the wider social return on investment.
Questions were raised regarding how additional capacity could be provided, and it was noted that CAB were currently in the process of recruiting additional staff.
(i) That David Andy be thanked for his presentation and providing the options contained within the report;
(ii) That Members consider the information presented within the presentation, and report circulated, and that a formal decision to address the demand for advice services be taken at the next meeting of the Area Council.