Down District CAB Faces Increase In Local Queries

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A PROGRESS report on Down District Citizen Advice Bureau has been released during a recent Down District Council Recreation & Community Services Committee meeting. The report entails a statistical analysis of targets and results achieved, covering the period from 1st October 2010 to 31st March 2011. The report was presented by Mr Damian Brannigan, Community Relations Officer for Down District Council. Mr Brannigan said there has been a very high demand for the services the Citizen Advice Bureau offers adding this was attributed to those using the Citizen Advice Bureau presenting with more than one problem or query at one time. This is reflected in the results table below. Councillors present at the committee meeting praised Sandra Ogle, Downpatrick CAB manager and her staff for their key role in the community and their continuing hard work.

Service/Activity Half Yearly Target Actual 1/10/2010 – 31/3/2011
Hours Access 1200 1404
Client Issues Responded to 3600 4905
Face to Face Appointments Provided 700 1296
Home Visits Provided 20 18
E-mail Enquiries Responded 70 81
Telephone Enquiries Answered % of Incoming Calls Answered 3400 95% 15,663 84.7%
Tribunal Assistance Provided 30 72
Training Sessions 6
The report shows how the Citizen Advice Bureau has continued to open for increased hours including a telephone service on saturdays, offering appointments, telephone advice, drop in sessions, e-mail advice, written advice and home visits. The services of a Tribunal Worker and a full time Money Advisor have also been used during this period. The volume of client issues was noted to have increased significantly as the bureau recruited a Money Advisor. Client issues across all the advice categories such as employment, housing and relationships, all increased overall. The results for face to face appointments almost doubled the original target. The report attributes this to the recruitment of a Tribunal Worker in July 2010, and now a Money Advice Worker has increased the overall appointment volumes. The volume of home visits was slightly less than targeted, with the bureau outlining that these are dependent on client demand and any client who required a home visit received one. Despite a reduction in home visits during this particular period, the volumes of home visits overall have been showing an increasing trend over the past year. The level of e-mail enquiries continues to show an upward trend. The report reveals how additional resources have been applied both during the week and on a saturday to deal with these. The most striking statistic from the report is what the bureau has described as a “colossal call volume”. Over 12,000 additional calls were received from an original target of 3,400, and of this figure the bureau answered 84.7% of calls. Of the calls not completed by the bureau 15% were engaged and only 0.3% were unanswered. The evidently high demand for tribunal assistance as shown has resulted in the Tribunal Worker being utilized on a full time basis during the outlined period to cope with the high demand for tribunal assistance. Since January 2011 awards worth £75,000 per annum in appeals have been achieved for clients. The bureau maintained its investment in training during this period, implementing training sessions for its staff in the areas of employment law, benefit changes and money advice. ]]>

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