Sedgemoor Citizens Advice Bureau. Annual Report THEN & NOW...

October 11, 2017 | Author: Lillian Patterson | Category: N/A
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Sedgemoor Citizens Advice Bureau Annual Report 2013-14 THEN & NOW...

Charity Registration Number 1041082 Company Limited by Guarantee Reg Number 2947532 Reg Office: Clarence House, High Street, Bridgwater, TA6 3BH Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN:617728

Contents 

Aims and Principles

Page 2

Our Vision

Page 2

Chairman’s Report

Page 3

Chief Executive Officer’s Report

Client Issues Analysis

Page 6

Social Policy

Page 7

Advice Services Transition Fund - Help & Advice Across Sedgemoor

Page 4 & 5

Pages 8 & 9

Housing Issues

Page 10

Welfare Benefits

Page 10

Client Satisfaction Survey 2013/14

Page 11

Sedgemoor Business Excellence Awards 2014

Page 11

Treasurer’s Report

Page 12


Page 13


Page 14

The Value of Volunteering

Page 15

Bureau Personnel

Page 15

Contact and Opening Times

Page 16

Meeting Rooms for Hire

Page 16

Aims and Principles Our aim is to provide free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to the people of Sedgemoor on their rights and responsibilities. We value diversity, promote equality and challenge discrimination.

Our Vision To empower people to exercise their rights and resolve their problems. To use client evidence as a force to improve local and national policy.

Page 2

Chairman’s Report Every now and again we all experience a year which surpasses much which has gone before. This past year has been one of those years for this Bureau. After much negotiation we are all back under one roof and the benefits to both client and staff are marked. The increase in the number of clients needing our services has risen by around 17.5% over the past year and much of this can be attributed to the central position in the town. In addition we have seen big developments in other areas of our existing involvements. The `Quality Audit ` in the early part of 2014 resulted in one of the best outcomes we have ever had. The `Social Policy Team` has taken this work to a level not seen before and continues to reach new highs. Then there are the new involvements. Together with the County Council we initiated the `Local Assistance Scheme for Somerset ` in Sedgemoor. We have a dedicated member of staff who has altogether the biggest involvement in the whole of the Somerset scheme. The `Advice Services Transition Fund` bid was successful and the project commenced on 2nd September 2013 comprising 8 partners, funded by `BIG` Lottery it will be supported until 1st September 2015. A lot of hard work has kept the project on course for reaching the set targets and notably we have extended our services to clients by opening new outreaches in Sedgemoor. Unforeseen was the devastation and trauma to people arising from the winter rains and resulting flooding. The Bureau, with the support of the Cabinet Office, took immediate action to address many of the problems that faced people in the area. I am very much aware of the effort expended through contacts with Central Government, via Citizens Advice Central Office, Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council and ultimately with the people who needed the support at the time. The Bureau arranged for two staff readily to devote their time to addressing the needs arising from those found to be affected. You all can be very proud of the achievements of your Bureau and its staff during this period. As current Chairman I have been very conscious of events unfolding around me, often left wondering what could happen next, over the past year and again I must pay tribute to the support received from within and without the Bureau. The Board of Trustees is well balanced and ensured that all decisions have been made within the full facts available and most likely to further the future interests of the Bureau. We have moved forward under the dynamic leadership of our Chief Officer who has managed the team of paid staff and volunteers while at the same time tackling the challenges arising around us. Without all these committed people in post my report would lack achievement and be very flat in its content. I would then thank all staff together with our funders for ensuring that we have seen another successful year for the benefit of the area of Sedgemoor. Mike Lyddon

Page 3

Chief Executive Officer’s Report The year started with Sedgemoor CAB leading a partnership of eight other service providers in a resulting successful bid for funding from the Advice Services Transition Fund (Government funded and managed by the Big Lottery). The two year Help and Advice Across Sedgemoor (HAAS) project began on 2 nd September 2013 and addresses working together to share resources and to make information and advice more accessible to people. More importantly however, is the need for the measures that we put in place to be sustainable at the end of the project and into the future. This has been no small challenge as the HAAS partners are such a diverse group of organisations. We all provide different advice services to a very broad spectrum of clientele with quite different delivery methods. The project involves opening three One-Stop-Shops, nine Info Hubs and providing a Village Agent service in a previously uncovered cluster of villages. Partners will all be able to refer their service users to other partners through an on-line referral system. The HAAS website will be used by the public to follow links to all advice giving partners and also information for those who wish to self-help. Partners will produce and deliver a HAAS Financial Capability package to their unique service users and 34 young students from Bridgwater College will receive an accredited qualification in advice giving which they will use to provide advice sessions for their peers in the college. The final and most difficult part of the project is to create a Text for Advice system aimed at young people. The first interim report of the enormous amount of work undertaken by partners was well received by the Big Lottery and it was most encouraging to receive an e-mail from them thus: “ I hope you don’t mind if I forward the details of the additional benefits that you have generated to the Advice Service Alliance as an example of excellent project enhancement.” We are learning a great deal as we progress through the project objectives and this is only possible due to the input and ownership felt by all partners. We are breaking a lot of new ground successfully. A diagram of the HAAS (Help and Advice Across Sedgemoor) service can be seen on pages 8 and 9. Priority was given to address the fact that the bureau was operating over two sites in Bridgwater resulting in a most satisfactory outcome. We managed to move the entire bureau into The Clarence, its new home, in the centre of Bridgwater whilst only closing for two days. Consideration was given not only to the premises allowing space for the growth of the service but also providing access to a little income from two meeting rooms that we can hire out to other organisations for training, meeting and AGM purposes. There has been a noted increase in the number of clients attending the bureau for advice since we took up residency in the centre of the town and our ultimate goal is to have our door open for longer throughout the week. A list of the businesses that helped this most advantageous move happen, and to whom we are truly grateful, is provided at the end of this report. A combined celebration took place on the 31 st January to mark the grand opening and the 50th anniversary of the bureau. Ultimately, 2014 will never be forgotten, not only for the two major pieces of work mentioned, but for when the bureau showed its real dexterity and determination when the devastating floods poured not only water but also havoc upon so many of our residents. Our first move was to produce a flood fact file that we shared with other advice givers and was reported to have been invaluable. We quickly followed this by producing a “Flood Pack” that we distributed to evacuees when we attended all of the community flood events. Page 4

Chief Officers Report continued... When roads became passable, we borrowed the Mendip Advice Bus and drove around the stricken areas stopping to talk to returning residents and offer them the help and advice that they needed. Sedgemoor CAB Advisers have been visible and accessible throughout this most trying of times for our local people but much more work was going on in the background and on a variety of levels. Citizens Advice in London soon became aware of the evacuated villages within Sedgemoor and the actions that the bureau was already taking to meet the expected needs of the stricken community. Much midnight oil was burned talking to the CAB officers in London who then directly informed the Cabinet Office of what was happening in Somerset and the help that the CAB needed to provide. Thanks to this direct communication the government released small funding pots for bureau working in flood struck areas which was greatly received and well utilised. Further work was needed on the grant agreement contract, which again needed close and direct contact from this bureau to London to ensure that the contract was as fit for rural areas as it was for the urban areas also water logged further up country. Thanks to the release of this money, we were able to employ two of our highly motivated and knowledgeable advisers to take help and advice out to the people who needed it most. This initial input attracted the attention of the Citizens Advice Press Office and we were very pleased to have Vicky Prout spend a day with us and to feed back her experiences on an almost ten minute basis to London. Vicky saw how the bureau assembled an advice team within minutes of being made aware that the first of the community sessions was to take place and she accompanied the team with the much haloed Flood Fact File to witness the traumatised state of our evacuated residents. Not only was Vicky instrumental in reporting the hard facts of the situation Somerset residents were in but she also wrote a blog detailing her experiences with the bureau at the grass roots level. More back office work was being done throughout all of this including lengthy conversations between ourselves, the County Council and Somerset Community Foundation regarding the donated funds that were pouring in. The bureau was able to offer input from a strong knowledge base of how the funds may be distributed. It was never going to be an easy task to decide who would receive what but the main priority had to be the time element and getting help to those who had to leave their homes and all of their possessions with little or no warning. We further prepared ourselves by very gratefully accepting a training session provided free of charge to the bureau from Richard Turner, Loss Adjuster. The information that he provided our workers with was invaluable and provided us with the answers that residents needed that we added to the Flood Pack. We found that driving the advice bus round was the access to advice that many residents preferred as they couldn’t or wouldn’t attend one of the community sessions or the bureau to talk through the issues they were facing. We continue to support residents still struggling with insurance and utility problems and we know that it is not all going to be over any time soon. The bureau offers its grateful thanks to every adviser that gave their time to help, often at a moment’s notice, and a very special thank you and well done to Paul and Sheila who did so much to help our traumatised victims. Joan Saddington

Page 5

Client Issues Analysis

5,441 Clients assisted by volunteers

22,800 Contacts generated - reducing since the Legal Services Commission contract ended

7,452 Individual issues dealt with

649 Employment issues

82 Specialist Housing cases, including 21 court hearing representations

49 Clients represented at welfare benefit tribunals

£997,401 Welfare benefit income generated

£501,184 Debt managed, of which £86,588 was Wessex Water debt and £414,596 mortgage and rent arrears

£341,223 Economic value of volunteering Page 6

Social Policy A major part of the work that the bureau undertakes is campaign work.

Sedgemoor CAB has processed 193 Bureau Evidence Forms since the end of April 2013. The main areas covered within Sedgemoor are around Benefits issues, including deductions, sanctions, ‘Fit for Work’ campaign, homelessness, consequences of the flooding and its effect on the local residents, unethical business practices in terms of housing and employment, especially relating to the change in Tribunal procedures. We have actively participated in national campaigns such as the Big Energy Saving Week; Scam Awareness; Consultation on Judicial Review and Digital Inclusion Surveys. We have also been involved with the Financial Authority revisions in terms of rules for Payday and Logbook Loans. As part of the County Social Policy Group we have actively participated in the Digital Exclusion in Somerset article. We are currently taking part in surveys in connection with Benefits, deductions and the Foodbanks.



10.1% 8.8% 13.5% Page 7

Advice Services

Advice Delivery Village Agent Broomfield

of the Future

Children’s Centre Info Hub

Children’s Centre Info Hub

North Petherton One Stop Shop

Village Agent Over Stowey

Community Council for Somerset

Somerset Advice Network

Children’s Centre Info Hub


Children’s Centres

Village Agent Durleigh

Sedgemoor Citizens Advice Bureau



Sedgemoo District Council Revenues

Children’s Centre Info Hub

Cannington One Stop Shop

Key Partners One Stop Shops

Village Agent Spaxton

Children’s Centre Info Hub

Info Hubs

Village Agent Chedzoy

Village Agents Young Trainees

‘Help & Advice Page 8

s Transition Fund


Children’s Centre Info Hub Village Agent Enmore

Nether Stowey One Stop Shop





Children’s Centre Info Hub

Sedgemoor District Council Housing Advice

Village Agent Middlezoy

Bridgwater & District Credit Union

Children’s Centre Info Hub

Homes in Sedgemoor

Sedgemoor District Council Benefits Children’s Centre Info Hub

Village Agent Goathurst

Bridgwater College Info Hub

Children’s Centre Info Hub

Young Trainee Advisers

Village Agent Westonzoyland

e Across Sedgemoor’ Page 9

Housing Issues 2013/14 In total our Housing Advice Caseworker saw 82 clients during the year. Problems ranged from actual threat of eviction to ‘what if’ scenarios.

82 cases generated 139 issues as many clients required more than one area of action and advice. Considerable caseworker time was used to produce financial statements to enable correct and informative advice to be given. Appropriate action was taken based on the advice given and the option chosen by the client. The majority of clients facing eviction and in need of court representation did not seek help until an average of 3 days before the actual hearing, but all received the help that they needed with the majority of homes being saved.

Welfare Benefits ESA renewal, reconsideration and appeals continued to be a huge element of the Welfare Benefit caseload for most of this financial year until changes to the internal process as a subsequence of ATOS pulling out of their contract early, caused a marked decrease in new bureau enquiries. This started to become apparent around the beginning of the year. As most existing ESA claimants are essentially being “left alone” until the internal dispute is remedied, we currently have far fewer requests for assistance to complete the limited capability for work questionnaire. The caseload of decision appeal work for ESA and DLA remained high throughout the financial year. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was introduced in June 2013. The claiming process has been severely delayed and claimants are now being warned that their claim can take anything up to 21 – 26 weeks to process although in many cases they have taken around 8 months to complete. Once processed the subsequent decision letter has been very informative and the clients have given positive feedback about the face to face consultation when used in making this decision. The backdated monies, often considerable amounts, have been very swiftly paid with no problems reported. Page 10

Client Satisfaction Survey 2013/14 

100% of clients: - were happy about how well the adviser understood their problem - were happy about the time they had to discuss their problem - were clear about what they needed to do next - said they were treated fairly by us - said they were happy with the service they received - said they would use the CAB service again - said they would recommend using CAB service to others

99% of clients were happy about where they came to see us

97% of clients found it easy to access our services

96% of clients received the help and information that they needed

94% of clients were happy about how long they had to wait in total

93% of clients were happy about the times we are open

Client feedback is very valuable and is used for different purposes:  internal service improvement  staff and volunteer motivation  information for funders Client satisfaction measurement is the process of obtaining qualitative and/or quantitative information about the extent to which client expectations are being met. As a bureau we are interested in receiving data on what clients really think about the services (rather than what we think they think!).

Sedgemoor Business Excellence Awards 2014 The bureau was highly honoured to be shortlisted for the Sedgemoor Business Excellence, Charity of the Year Award in March 2014. We were joined by Turnkey IT Solutions that provides IT support to the bureau and who also received an award nomination.

Although neither organisation won our specific award, the recognition of the work that we do was well received and an excellent dinner and evening of entertainment sealed the event as a success itself. Page 11

Treasurer’s Report In the penultimate year of my tenure as trustee treasurer I am able to reflect on what has turned out to be a tumultuous year which has brought yet another set of demands on the bureau’s expertise and abilities. Each year I praise our core funders for their unflagging support which enables us to provide good timely quality advice to an ever increasing number of vulnerable persons and this year is no exception. Even though funders are under enormous pressure to trim budgets and the bureau anticipated cuts in our levels of funding for this fiscal year it became abundantly clear that they value our levels of commitment and performance highly resulting in the maintenance of our core funding. Additional funding was received from Somerset County Council in the form of running costs for the Local Assistance Scheme for Somerset (LASS), Sedgemoor District Provision. This funding provided for a full time application processor and associated costs. The successful bureau led multi-partner bid for an Advice Services Transition Fund project provided the bureau with running costs and an additional member of staff to co-ordinate the project. We are most grateful for both as the service that we provide to the people of Sedgemoor is now considerably enhanced. The “Levels” flooding disaster brought further demands on all staff and this was recognised with a grant received directly from Central Government towards the costs of temporary staff employed for short term contracts. We were able to reward our paid staff an increase of 1% of their gross salary in line with local government rates, the first for some time. Our long awaited desire to unite all under one roof has been achieved and it is believed the long-term advantages will be substantial. Inevitably there are costs associated with leaving both the “Lions” and the ”Exchange” which have made inroads into our funds and affected the budget. It was a wake-up call to realise that our charity was just another corporation when negotiating lease cancellations/refurbishment costs with our lessor. Equally IT cabling/equipment and furnishing costs at the “Clarence” required extra funds. The additional space that the Clarence provides also attracts some social enterprise as arranged by the CEO. We now have two large meeting rooms which are hired out to organisations such as our own at very competitive rates. We have also been able to hire out a suite of offices to the District Scouts Movement, which is an arrangement that suits all and provides further income for the bureau. Whilst any increase in funding would be gratefully received and would provide for much needed additional services, the bureau maintains its required reserved funds. Ongoing and careful money management remains high priority. We remain eternally grateful to all our funders who we believe recognise that Sedgemoor CAB represents excellent value for money. Mike Aylmer

Page 12


INCOME Sedgemoor District Council Somerset County Council HASS (restricted) LASS (restricted) Legal Services Commission (restricted) EDF Energy Trust (restricted) Somerset NHS/PCT (restricted) SDC Court Desk (restricted) Wessex Water (restricted) Flood Relief (restricted) Donations and other income Somerset Community Foundation (restricted) SDC MAAPS (restricted) Somerset County Council Local Assistance Scheme (restricted) CITA Grants and other minor grants TOTAL INCOME EXPENDITURE Salaries and pension Rent and services IT Expenses Partner Charges – HAAS Project Dilapidations – Exchange Offices Travel Telephone & postage Light and heat Relocation Printing, stationery, photocopying & advertising CitA and Professional fees Depreciation Insurance Cleaning Repairs and maintenance Sundry expenses – including refreshments Training Payroll fee Publications Project Equipment Independent examination fees Secondee TOTAL EXPENDITURE NET OUTGOING RESOURCES FOR THE YEAR

Page 13

2014 £ 100,000 66,300 46,725 38,400 30,930 23,650 10,000 11,100

2013 £ 100,000 66,300 47,965 39,782 23,650 15,000 9,500

8,835 7,553 -



6,405 6,000


2,000 860







212,894 42,658 27,416 11,452 10,618 9,120 8,015 7,521 6,530

198,746 51,095 9,947 9,620 8,309 5,452 -

6,415 4,139 3,833 3,517 3,121 2,874 1,816 1,776 1,127 1,448 1,008 570 --------------367,868 _______

4,580 5,057 1,931 2,648 2,531 5,592 2,557 1,760 1,146 1,697 1,385 17,153 --------------331,206 _______



Acknowledgements A big thank you goes out to the following organisations that have supported and assisted the bureau during 2013/14: 

Sedgemoor District Council

Simon Heywood & Partners

Somerset County Council

Environments for Business Ltd

Somerset NHS

Cluffs Commercial

Bridgwater Town Council

Butterworth Jones

Cheddar Parish Council

Pardoes Solicitors

Burnham on Sea & Highbridge Town Council

Everys Solicitors

Alletsons Solicitors

Sedgemoor Parish Councils

Ash Clifford Solicitors

BIG Lottery

Lyndon Brett Partnership

Somerset Community Foundation

Sedgemoor Carriers

Legal Services Commission

South West Cleaning

Wessex Water

Coopers Cleaning

Individuals who have made donations

Rapide System Supplies


Staff Guardian

Rural Issues Group

Turnkey IT Solutions

Windsor Catering

Richard Turner

Elite Blinds

Pulse Radio

Triangle Lifts

BBC Somerset

Bridgwater Mercury

Jim Savage & Paul Manning (Decorators)

Woolavington Village Hall

ADS Insurance

Cheddar Baptist Church

Café Connect

Burnham on Sea Methodist Church

Foodbanks (Bridgwater, Cheddar, Highbridge)

Cannington United Reformed Church

Citizens Advice

Hope Baptist Church Highbridge

North Petherton Old United Reformed Church

And many more………….

An extra special thank you is extended to all our volunteers, past and present, who have given so much of their own time to help others. Without them the bureau would not exist. Page 14

The Value of Volunteering with Sedgemoor CAB Volunteers are vital to the service, working in partnership with staff to provide quality advice and support to the citizens of Sedgemoor every year. Our volunteers provided £341,223 economic value to the bureau in the past year. In order to deliver a high-quality service for our clients, we continually invest in volunteers’ recruitment, development and management, enabling a range of people with different skills and backgrounds to volunteer. By training and investing in our volunteers we help individuals to use their abilities to develop existing skills, learn new ones and to know that they are helping people in their local community. This can have a significant impact on volunteers lives, for example:  All CAB volunteers gain at least one practical skill from volunteering  4 in 5 believe that they have increased their employability  9 in 10 have an increased sense of purpose or self-esteem  4 in 5 believe volunteering has had a positive effect on their health  9 in 10 feel more engaged with their community For more information about volunteering contact Elaine Williams on 01278 459009 or email [email protected] or visit

Bureau Personnel (as at 31st March 2014)                      

Abbi King Abi Black Alex Lemanski Alison Hamlin Andrew Smith April Joseph-Mason Barry Leathwood Carole Balston Chris Kettle Christine Coombes Christine Holdsworth Colin Cudbill Dave Englefield David Roberts Dawn Hill Elaine Williams Fiona Young Harry Cowan Heledd Wyn Jennifer Carter Jeremy Daniel Jim Wood

                     

Joan Saddington John Elford John Robinson Julie Nicholson Kate Wilkin Kerry Dougall Kevin Chorley Laura Clapp Lia Chant Louise Russ Lyn Goodfellow

Maggie Fletcher Marilyn Shields-Probett Mike Aylmer Mike Lyddon Mike Turner Molly Larkins Nick Hubbard Norman Denney Paris Jade Lock Paul Deacon Paul Holtam

Page 15

                   

Pauline James Pauline Symonds Roger Fielder Roy Turner Sally Taylor Sam Weston Sarah Bowden Serena Towlson Shannon Came Sheila Burton Shelly Coutts Sian Sedgwick-Wilde Sophie Cooper Tamlin Pearce Tina Hamilton Tom Sparkes Toni Pearson Tony Smith Win Yee Li Winston Small Yvonne Kay Zoey Williams

Contact and Opening Times Bridgwater - Clarence House, High street Monday to Friday 10am – 1pm Saturday 10am – 12 noon Cheddar - Cheddar Baptist Church, Lower North Street Monday 9.30am – 12.30pm Burnham on Sea - Methodist Church, College Street Tuesday 9.30am – 12.30pm Cannington – United Reformed Church, High Street Wednesday 1pm - 4pm Highbridge - Hope Baptist Church, Church Street Thursday 9.30am – 12.30pm North Petherton – St Marys Church Rooms, North Petherton Thursday 1pm – 3pm Nether Stowey - St Marys Church Centre, St Marys Street, Nether Stowey Tuesday 1pm - 4pm Telephone Advice Service 01278 455236 Email Advice Service adv[email protected]

Meeting Rooms for Hire Hourly rate

Day rate

Large Meeting Room

£17 per hour

£100 per day (9.30am–4.30pm)

Small Meeting Room

£14 per hour

£75 per day (9.30am-4.30pm)


50p per head

For further details please contact Elaine Williams on 01278 459009 or email [email protected] Page 16

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