To receive a presentation from the Citizens Advice Bureau - Carlisle and Eden
Mr Auld from the Citizens Advice - Carlisle and Eden referred to his presentation on the Citizens Advice - Carlisle and Eden (CACE) which had been included in the Agenda.
He talked to member about what the CACE would be doing in 2022 and 2023 and how it would be responding to future challenges. He talked about why giving advice was effective and how a follow up exercise had been undertaken nationally by the CACE on client satisfaction and how they had been helped by the CACE. A number of statistics were reported pertaining to this exercise.
Members were informed about how the CACE had responded to clients during the pandemic. It was noted that officers had worked remotely but would be returning to face to face interviews as required. Statistics were reported on how many people had been helped by the CACE on Eden in 2021 and it was reported that the CACE had helped residents increase their income and helped with poverty related issues.
The Local Committee was thanked for its support to the CACE. An example of a client who was suffering from energy related poverty was detailed for members. How they were helped and the positive outcomes achieved were reported. The successes of this case showed the importance of quality and timely advice provided by the CACE. Another example was provided relating to the support of a refugee who had been resettled in Eden.
Mr Auld talked about the difficulties that households would be facing due to the rise in living costs and incomes not keeping up with inflation, as well as CACE’s increasing support for people with mental health issues. How the CACE was staffed and how clients were supported online was noted. Members were informed about the joint working taking place with the NHS on supporting people with long COVID and on the specialist employment support for residents in Cumbria being undertaken in conjunction with the Director of Public Health.
After thanking Mr Auld for attending the meeting and praising the work of staff and volunteers, the Chair was pleased to note that the Local Committee helped to fund the CACE.
Following a member question on the return to face to face meetings, Mr Auld talked members through how successful remote working had been and that face to face meetings were limited to complex cases or for vulnerable people.
A member asked how issues such as the cost of living, particularly the increase in energy prices were affecting people’s lives. Mr Auld talked about the work supporting people on these matters, particularly in relation to budgeting and energy debt.
Volunteers and the appropriateness of their life skills and how they supported clients was briefly discussed.
Following a member question on how easy it was to attract volunteers, Mr Auld reported on the expected number of new volunteers the CACE had each year and how many dropped out after the first couple of months. This was mainly due to changes in their circumstances.
The Chair praised the work of the CACE and after commenting on how he appreciated the work of staff and volunteers, hoped that the relationship between the Local Committee and the CACE would continue. He invited Mr Auld to return to a future meeting.