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Counting the Cost: Advice Services and the Public Spending Reductions Commissioned by The Bill Sargent Trust (part of First Wessex) Carried out by Community.

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Presentation on theme: "Counting the Cost: Advice Services and the Public Spending Reductions Commissioned by The Bill Sargent Trust (part of First Wessex) Carried out by Community."— Presentation transcript:

1 Counting the Cost: Advice Services and the Public Spending Reductions Commissioned by The Bill Sargent Trust (part of First Wessex) Carried out by Community Action Hampshire

2 Methodology On-line survey – 60 responses In-depth interviews – 29 responses 90% of respondents from VCS Good geographical coverage 37% of respondents provide generalist advice

3 Income 60% reported drop in income in 2012/13 Drop in ‘other income’ most often reported District/borough council funding – most reported a drop, but most not experiencing major % cuts More significant cuts at county/unitary level Contracts – many hit by loss, end or re-commissioning of a contract. Legal Aid – huge impact in both number and scale

4 Demand 77% reported an increase in demand in 2012/13 Most significant increases in demand for: –Sickness/disability benefits advice –Mental health advice –Debt and money management advice Workload has also become more complex and time consuming ESA – causing huge increase in demand

5 Demand (cont’d…) ‘Bedroom tax’ – Housing Associations and others JSA sanctions Impacts of Legal Aid cuts Council Tax Relief Debt & money management Still old clients, but lots of ‘new type’ (squeezed middle)

6 Increase in Demand for Sickness/ Disability Benefits Advice

7 Vulnerable Groups Particular concern about people with mental health problems –Problems with ESA –Big surge in number (major & ‘minor’) –Threshold to receive statutory support changed? –Partnership with mental health workers changed? –Many people need specialist help but aren’t getting –Are advice workers increasingly having to act as quasi advocates? Refugee/asylum seekers – closure of major support organisations

8 Vulnerable Groups (cont’d…) Children and young people –Families of disabled children –Youth advice hugely overstretched. Connexions changes Over 70s – mixed picture (withdrawal of support?) Food & food banks Casework & tribunals

9 Unmet demand 35% of respondents felt unmet need had increased but … Most advice providers unable to accurately measure unmet need Advocacy – very little free availability Many advice providers meeting demand by asking more of staff and volunteers. Sustainable? Common theme – doing less ‘hand holding’. Empowering or disabling??? Unmet demand set to increase further? Tribunals Legal Aid

10 Changes to working practices Most reported some change in working practices: –Collecting information on statutory failures –Tightening criteria to access advice –Less ‘handholding’ –Call handling technology –More triage –More use of volunteers –Sharing resources/merger –Limiting opening hours –Limiting services –Targets for workers –Moving from ‘gold standard’ service to ‘good enough’ –Working better in partnerships –Reduction in follow-up –Cutting home visits –Recruiting more staff (Housing Associations) –Avoiding duplication –Using website/ /social media

11 Date for your Diary Wednesday 11th September Above Bar Street, Southampton Bill Sargent Trust & Hampshire Advice Network dissemination event. “Counting the Cost: Advice Services and the Public Spending Reductions”


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