Citizens Advice Caerphilly
Better Off Calculator
Covid and the uncertainties surrounding the disease have posed challenges in terms of delivering advice, as well as supporting Citizens Advice Caerphilly’s staff. A move from delivering advice in-person to solely digital was rapid and they had to react overnight to uncertain changes. At the same time, the need for advice was growing, as was their workforce. CA Caerphilly recruited more than 50 people remotely to deal with the rise in demand, who needed to be trained to a high level to be able to deliver their services.
Advisers can access the Better Off Calculator wherever they are, which means they can deliver accurate advice remotely or in person. The software has a prompt tool, which can direct advisers to investigate other areas where income could be maximised. The old platform the team previously needed to rely on the knowledge of individual advisors, but having a uniform platform enabled the scale up of Caerphilly’s operations to take place more smoothly. The prompts help with training advisers about the benefits system and act as a reminder for experienced advisers. This ensures a complete, holistic approach to advice delivery.
The self-serve debt calculator is also efficient. Clients can use the calculator to provide the team with information prior to appointments. In particular, this is helpful for the debt team as it streamlines the process and makes the customer journey smoother. The budgeting tool helps clients understand their income and expenditure. It can provide a detailed budget tailored to that specific client, to try and prevent them from falling into debt again.
Volunteers use the self-serve calculator and they can attach their calculations to the case records. CA Caerphilly can then re-run that information via the benefit calculator when quality checking.
The self-serve site also offers an apply here button, making the customer journey smooth and simple.
The team have found that they are working far smarter and the engagement from clients has improved. They have employed around 50 new staff members who have been trained remotely and they’re now able to offer a high level of advice to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
The scenario tool within the calculator is particularly useful as they can tell people how a change of circumstances or changes to the way benefits are calculated will affect their incomes in the future. This helps our clients to better plan for the future.
In the past year they have helped almost 6,000 clients achieve income gains of over £3 million. In recognition of this extraordinary achievement Citizens Advice Caerphilly was voted Charity of the Night at the Caerphilly Business Club awards 2021.
Between 1 January and 30 November this year we helped almost 6,000 clients achieve income gains of over £3 million. Policy in Practice’s Better Off Calculator has helped us accurately assess a person’s entitlements to maximise their incomes, manage their finances better and improve their overall well-being. During the pandemic, it has supported us to train more than 50 new staff members remotely, increasing our workforce to around 200. The platform has helped us to work smarter and meet the demand for advice during challenging times.
Emma Gray, Communications Officer, Citizens Advice Caerphilly Blaenau Gwent