Agenda item

Presentation from Barnsley Citizen's Advice Bureau (Sac.18.12.2020/5)


David Andy from Barnsley Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) was welcomed to the meeting.


It was noted that since lockdown the service had been delivered via telephone and digital means, rather than face to face. This had worked very well, and residents could access the service every day.  Should local telephone lines be busy clients would be redirected to other CAB offices. Plans had been made for clients to be able to video call in the new year.


It was noted that the County Courts had been suspended in lockdown, and only recently reconvened to consider the most pressing cases.  This had impacted on the types of issues being dealt with by the service with clients tending to have fewer housing and debt issues.  However, there had been an increase in demand of employment advice. Numbers of contacts were slightly down on the previous year and the number of clients was significantly down, however those seeking advice had more complex issues which required a greater level of support.


Numbers of vulnerable clients seen had reduced, which was thought to be attributable to certain processes at the Department of Work and Pensions being paused.  It was thought that numbers would increase once the pandemic eased.


During the year 1,219 issues had been dealt with and clients were seen on average three times. Members heard that clients accessed from all wards, in a pattern similar to previous years.


The service had assisted clients to manage £117,000 of debt this year and gain £770,000 of additional benefit.  It was acknowledged that both were lower than the previous year, but this was attributed to pauses in court hearings and in DWP processes.


Members asked if plans in place for when courts were more widely opened, and it was noted that arrangements were in place to support clients when required.


Those present discussed the impact of the pandemic and anticipated job losses, and a suggestion was made to consider what additional support could be provided to those looking for work or to reskill.


Discussed was the lack of access to appropriate IT, and it was noted that support was available in the form of tablet computers accessible through Neighbourhood Engagement Officers.


RESOLVED that thanks be given for the presentation.

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