Cambridge and District Citizens Advice Bureau
The principal activities of the bureau are to provide free, confidential and independent advice.
The principal aims of the organisation are twofold:
1. To provide the advice people need for the problems they face
2. To improve the policies and practices that affect peoples' lives.
The main objectives and activities for the year continued to focus on the provision of advice and guidance to the local population. The strategies in place to assist the charity to meet these objectives included the following:
• providing access to the charity's resource through a variety of mechanisms, including (during the pandemic), telephone, email response and other virtual resources including a website, webchat and video (Face to face advice has been on hold).
• working in partnership with other agencies to ensure that the widest range of services is available that best matches the needs of the clients.
• achieving financial stability through the generation of our own income e.g. renting space at 66 Devonshire Road
The majority of the work of the bureau is generalist advice work. The majority of the work is usually carried out by volunteers but during this unusual period the paid staff have helped out in light of the unprecedented spike in demand – sometimes 50% more than equivalent times the year before. The generalist work consists of 'one off' advice in the 14 key areas of benefits, consumer issues, debt, education, employment, finance, health, housing, immigration and nationality, legal, relationships, tax, travel and utilities.
Additional services include casework up to representation at court or tribunal in debt, welfare rights, and housing plus financial capability education work and despite the lockdown our specialists have found ways of making sure that we have continued to deliver this level or complex advice – often needing to spend a great deal more time preparing and supporting clients through the trauma of 3-way phone tribunals for example.
Our advisers logged 28,288 clients (18,261 the year before) and enquiries 52,420 (46,440 in 2020) and 29,137 contacts (25,036 in 2020).
For the first time benefit enquiries way out-stripped debt advice – mostly around questions about claiming
Universal Credit and people asking about the benefits system in general, who have never had to even consider this support and have no knowledge how to work their way round it.
During the period gained income for clients was worth £6,825,570. The number of debts and overpayments dealt with had a value of £2,328,824. We helped to prevent 1003 individuals and families from being made homeless (677 in 2017).
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Members Service Areas:
Housing, Guidance, Advice Services
Location of Beneficiaries:
Cambridge City, South Cambridgeshire