Citizens Advice Caerphilly has worked hard to transition from in-person support to delivering their services remotely. As well as growing by recruiting 50 new staff members, the team has worked smarter and the engagement from clients has improved. 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.
Citizens Advice Caerphilly’s good news story of 2021
At the end of November we were voted Charity of the Night at the Caerphilly Business Club awards. This was a public Twitter vote, not judged by the business club themselves, and we took more than 50% of the votes.
The fact that the public voted shows how many people have been helped by Citizens Advice Caerphilly Blaenau Gwent. Between 1 January 2021 and 30 November 2021 we have helped almost 6,000 clients achieve income gains of around £3, 350,000.
Research shows that those receiving welfare benefits tend to spend hyper local. Many of the businesses who were also nominees have benefited from the economic impact our work has on local communities.
Emma Gray, Communications Officer, Citizens Advice Caerphilly Blaenau Gwent
Learn more about Citizens Advice Caerphilly’s good news story
Covid and the uncertainties surrounding the disease have posed challenges in terms of delivering advice, as well as supporting our staff. A move from delivering advice in-person to solely digital was rapid and we had to react overnight to uncertain changes. At the same time, the need for advice was growing, as was our workforce. We recruited more than 50 people remotely, who we needed to be trained to a high level to be able to deliver our services.
Advisers can access the Benefit and Budgeting 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 we used relied heavily on adviser knowledge. 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 Benefit and Budgeting Calculator is very accurate and all information about the client’s circumstances that has been input by an adviser is recorded. We can refer back to this information, email the calculations and the breakdowns to clients or provide them with a paper copy.
This is also an advantage when it comes to governance and quality assurance. Our supervisors are able to see exactly what advice has been given and they can assist with identifying training needs.
The self-serve debt calculator is also efficient. Clients can use the calculator to provide us 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. We 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.
We are working far smarter and the engagement from clients has improved. We 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 we 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.
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 Benefit and Budgeting 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.