More than two hundred people have used the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) outreach in Warsop during the last year. The weekly outreach sessions at Warsop Town Hall are delivered by Mansfield CAB and jointly funded by Warsop Parish Council and Big Warsop. The service provides generalist advice for local people on all areas of social welfare law, including housing, employment, benefits, immigration, family and consumer law.
55% of the enquiries dealt with by the CAB Outreach team over the last 12 months have been about benefits. The team helped clients claim over £400,000 of benefits, much of which related directly to increased disability benefits.
“Evidence shows us that around 70% of the people accessing the weekly drop-in service are vulnerable,” said Simon Hartley-Jones, Chief Executive Officer at Mansfield Citizens Advice Bureau. “Many of these vulnerable adults suffer from physical or mental health problems and much of the work that has been done with them has been about benefits advice, particularly disability benefits.”
The CAB Outreach team also provides a monthly debt and money advice service in Warsop, thanks to additional funding from the Money Advice Service. As a result, they have helped clients to reduce their debts by just under £200,000.
“The debt and money advice sessions are run by specialist staff who provide a full range of services, including representation at court, insolvency, income maximisation, and financial capability,” Simon Hartley-Jones said.
The CAB Outreach in Warsop has been supported by £1,500 of funding from the Big Warsop ‘Good Ideas Pot’.
Here’s how the service has helped local people
Case Study 1 – A 28 year old client and her partner with debts of around £31,500
The couple were managing their debt until the client’s partner had his overtime stopped, which significantly reduced their income. Before coming to CAB, they had sought advice from a debt management company which had charged them £350 for trying to obtain an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) for them. The IVA was not obtained, and the clients lost £350. The same debt management company then offered advice on bankruptcy for an upfront payment of £250. The client was unaware of organisations such as CAB, Money Advice Trust and Step Change Debt Charity (formerly the Consumer Credit Counselling Service) that can offer advice and help on bankruptcy for free.
Case Study 2 – Mr A, who was referred to the CAB service by his GP who was treating him for depression
Mr A is married with two small children. Although his wife was working, Mr A had been unable to pay his mortgage since he finished his self-employed work on the grounds of ill health two years ago.
The CAB adviser who provided debt advice in this case identified that Mr A wasn’t receiving the tax credits he was entitled to and helped him claim them. As a result, Mr A was awarded tax credits of £170 per week. The CAB adviser also suggested that Mr A claimed Personal Independence Payment (PIP) as he had difficulty caring for himself and getting about. Mr A was awarded PIP, which increased his weekly income by another £37.30 per week.
Case Study 3 – A client who was only receiving a state retirement pension of £39.71 a week
The CAB team identified that the client was entitled to pension credit of £90.29 a week, housing benefit of £48 a week and council tax benefit of £14.56 a week. The client is now over £7,000 a year better off.
Case Study 4 – Mrs Z, who was referred to the CAB by the practice nurse
Ms Z was a 21 year old single parent of a 13 month old daughter living in a one-bedroomed flat. The bedroom in the flat was very damp and there was mould on the walls. Ms Z had ended up buying a new mattress and sleeping on the floor of the living room. The baby’s cot had also become mouldy and so, on the advice of her health visitor, Ms Z was no longer using it. Ms Z’s daughter slept with her on the mattress in the living room.
The damp in the bedroom was so bad that Ms Z was worried about her daughter’s health. This view was shared by her health visitor who wrote a letter to Environmental Health. Initially Ms Z was informed that the damp was “just condensation” and was advised that she should keep the windows open at all times. This was difficult as the flat was on the ground floor. The CAB helped to persuade the housing provider to replace the windows (which were eventually identified as the cause of the problem), replaster the bedroom, and provide Ms Z with vouchers for redecoration.
The CAB also helped Ms Z obtain a grant so that she could buy a new cot for her daughter.
Financial Capability – Ms J, a single parent with two dependant children.
Ms J was receiving various benefits and paying a total of £70 a week to five different doorstep lenders, who were charging interest at over 250 percent a year. She never missed a payment to these lenders, but did miss payments on her rent and council tax and was in serious arrears on her utilities.
Ms J attended a Money Matters session and afterwards said: “I will never use a doorstep lender again. I had no idea credit unions existed. The best thing for me was realising I could do something about my situation.”