The Parish Council funds a Citizens Advice outreach service in Wingate which means those in our community who have a need for advice can get direct access to an advisor who covers the Wingate area. It means those in need get more of a personal service than simply phoning a number and speaking to ‘anyone’.
Citizens Advice colleagues can be contacted by calling 07590359573 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The service operates normally from the Community Centre bi-weekly 9:30-11:30 although as a result of the pandemic face to face meeting may not always be possible.
A summary of the work of Citizens Advice in Wingate is summarised below.
Citizens Advice County Durham Report for Wingate Parish Council Outreach
November 2020 –October 2021
Following on from last year and the restrictions placed upon us by the Coronavirus Pandemic, we have continued to provide advice to local residents by telephone and email.
As you can see from the table below, this change to delivery model has had an effect on the number of people we have been able to help – this may be due to the new ways of getting advice being more convenient and less time consuming, as there has been no need to travel to a venue. Alternatively it could be indicative of an increase in demand.
What is also shown through all the periods is that many of our clients come to us with multiple issues as they know that we offer holistic support, helping them to deal with all their issues, without them having to contact different agencies and repeat their problems.
|Nov 2020 – Oct 2021||Nov 2019 – Oct 2020|
|Number of clients seen||25||17|
|Number of issues||161||55|
|Total Income gain for residents||£109424||£75919|
|Most Common Issue||Benefits (PIP), ESA, CTR||Benefits CTR, PC, UC, ESA|
The table above highlights that a client is now likely to attend with multiple issues that they need help with. This year, and especially in the last 6 months, the help that clients have needed has been more challenging.
The project has identified £109424 of unclaimed benefits for clients. This means on average each client helped has had an income gain of £4377. The figures are made up of both confirmed gains that clients have notified us about and also gains that we have calculated clients are entitled to. During one of the most challenging times in our recent history, this help could be invaluable.
The gender split for the 20/21 period was 78% female/22% male; compared to 35% female/65% male in the previous reporting year.
Ethnicity has remained static over the last 2 years, with 95-100% of residents accessing the service identifying as white. The percentage of clients telling us they have a long-term health condition or disability has reduced from 76 % in 2019 to 43 % in 2021.
Of the residents we have seen so far this year, the most common age range was that of 60 – 64 years, followed by the 25-29 and 65+ age ranges. In 2019-20, the majority of residents seen were of the 65+ years followed by 50 -59 range. This may indicate that more working age people are needing to or are able to, access the service.
The way people have accessed the service has also altered. In 20/21, 92% of clients contacted us by phone, 6% by email and 2% in person compared to 73% in person and 27% by phone in 2019/2020.
One of the positive outcomes we have had for our clients is detailed below. This client was referred to us by another charity, initially wanting help to apply for a charity grant for a washing machine. We made sure to explore the full circumstances in order to ensure there were no other issues exacerbating the situation – such as non-receipt of applicable benefit.
Mrs B is 38 years old, currently in receipt of Universal Credit for both her and her husband. She lives in a private rented house and both client and husband have health issues. She had previously tried to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for her husband, this was not successful. Client and her husband were struggling financially and were desperate for a new washing machine. Another charity referred the client to us for help with the charitable support application. Client was receiving help from the other charity with her debt issues.
We successfully applied for charitable support for the washing machine and this was delivered directly to clients home.
On querying her and her husband’s medical issues, it was identified that he appeared to be eligible for PIP and was assisted to make the claim and with the form completion. A claim was also made to the local authority for a Blue Badge.
Due to Covid, claims for PIP are taking longer than usual so we do not have an outcome for the claim, however we were successful in helping our client make a claim for a Blue Badge. Mrs B also understands that we will fully support her with the next steps of her husband’s PIP claim. This could be to check for extra benefit eligibility should the PIP claim be successful, or to assist to challenge the benefit decision should they be unhappy with the award.
Things can seem so confusing to clients, especially when they have a lot of stress in their lives.
Citizens Advice County Durham provides clear, easy to understand advice and assistance, that lets clients make their choices armed with all the necessary information.
It is thanks to the Wingate Parish Council funding that we can offer advice in the community and we thank you for your on-going support. We have recently returned to a weekly face to face service in our outreach location, and will continue to look at ways to improve access to our service for all residents.