Agenda item

Welfare Advice - Presentations for Citizen's Advice Bureau and DIAL Barnsley (Cen.09.11.2022/4)


David Andy from Citizen’s Advice Bureau was welcomed to the meeting, and Members were reminded that the service provided had started on 1st December 2020. It had always been designed to be delivered face to face but due to the pandemic had been delivered via telephone and digital means.  However, it was noted that face to face services would resume in the new year.


Since the start of the service, 1,666 client contacts had been made, with in excess of £375,000 benefit gain, an average of £5,435 per client.  £213,000 of debt had also been managed, an average of £5,357 per client.  Clients had been assisted with 3,510 issues in total.


Members considered current data associated with the project, noting the gender imbalance, with females more likely to access support. The reasons for this were unknown.  It was noted that data was likely to be much improved when face to face services resumed, due to the hampered ability to ask for demographic information via email.


Members received a case study which highlighted the impact of the service and questions were then invited.


A question asked related to the waiting times and Members heard that responses via email were normally provided within 2-3 days.  Members also questioned whether the statistics referred to all CAB support provided in the Central area, or just those funded by the Area Council, and it was noted that it was the latter.


Those present discussed whether other options for advice and support were considered, such as through trade unions for their members, and it was noted that all avenues of support were considered.


Sharon Brown from DIAL was welcomed to the meeting and provided an overview of the aims of the organisation.  Members were made aware of the highlights of the service between July and October, 2022.  259 residents had attended face to face sessions with 233 follow up telephone calls.  Around £335,000 of additional income had also been generated and 159 volunteer hours committed.

Noted were the high proportion of residents using the service that reported a reduction in anxiety, an improvement in wellbeing and being more confident with an improved outlook.


Members received demographic information on users, include by age, gender, ward and ethnicity, and were provided with a case study which served to highlight the personal impact that the service could have on the lives of residents.  A further case study showed the impact on the lives of those volunteering at DIAL.


Questions were invited and Members discussed potential duplication with CAB and other similar services.  It was noted that DIAL specialised in providing advice for welfare benefits, whereas CAB specialised in debt advice and the services were complementary.


With regards to the distribution of residents using the service, it was noted that Dodworth figures had been surprisingly low historically but had increased more recently and it was noted that promotional work had taken place.  When asked why the number of users had been low it was thought that there was no conclusive reason.


RESOLVED that thanks be given to both providers for their presentations and the continued hard work in the area.

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