Our Impact in 2016-17
We are pleased to publish our new Impact Report for 2016-17. This shows how our advice has changed lives and had financial, economic and social benefits. For example: for every £1 invested in ca-scd last year, there was a £2.80 saving to government and public services (fiscal savings) ; £15.75 of wider economic and social benefits (public value) and £14.66 in financial outcomes to the people we help. For the full report for 2016-17 click here.
Vote now for our Money Advice for Mental Health project in the Aviva Community Awards
Please support us by voting for our Mental Health and Money Advice Project
We've submitted a bid for £25,000 funding to fund our debt project that provides money advice to people with mental health problems for a further year and we really need to win!
Voting has now opened and eight projects with the highest number of votes will win so please vote now and then share the link below with all your friends and family and your community and ask everyone else to vote too.
Just go to http://bit.ly/2yJ4aDz. You first have register and then you get ten votes to use which I hope you will give all the our project!
Voting closes on 18th November so please keep reminding your networks of friends right up till the last minute.
And if you use Facebook or twitter and are not yet following ca-scd, please find us on
Facebook at CitizensAdviceStroudCotswolds and
Twitter at @AdviceStroudCotswold
and follow us now so that you can share this voting link via these routes.
Many thanks for your support
ps. If you have trouble voting today, please try again later - I think everyone is trying to vote now and the website has gone really slow. But don't worry - there's plenty of time to get your vote in before 18th November . Just don't forget!
Help offered with Universal Credit
RESIDENTS are being offered a helping hand ahead of the roll-out of Universal Credit which will bring significant changes.
It is a new benefit which helps people on a low income or not in work meet their living costs and it combines a range of benefits into a single monthly payment and we are helping people get ready for Universal Credit as it rolls out in full across the area.
Although the charity continues to ask the government to pause the roll out until problems with the benefit are fixed, it is set to start from October 4th.
The credit is only available currently to single jobseekers but this year parents, couples and people who can’t work because of their health who make a new claim will also receive it.
We are highlighting what changes are due to take effect, namely around how Universal Credit is paid, so that people can prepare before applying for the new benefit.
The three changes people need to be aware of are :
Universal Credit payments are paid monthly, rather than weekly
Payments will go straight into a claimant's bank account. This means people may need to set up their own standing orders for expenses like rent
New Universal Credit applications, and any change circumstances, need to be made online
With most people facing a six week wait for their first payment, we are encouraging people to apply for an advance payment (loan to be paid back) if they’re concerned about meeting their living costs.
Of the nearly 4,000 people we helped last year, more than 1,200 people raised over 2,800 benefit issues. Problems with benefits are always some of the most common problems that we see and this is expected to increase.
Sally Pickering Chief Officer of Citizens Advice in Stroud District, said: “Universal Credit is the biggest ever change to the benefits system, so it’s important people get support while they get used to the new system.
“Most of the queries we’ve helped with so far have focused on people wanting to know how Universal Credit works and how to apply, and we’d expect that to continue.
“We can help people at every stage of the application process – from guiding someone through the online application form, or offering budgeting advice to help people best manage their monthly payment.
“Anyone with a question or cconcern should get in touch with us at the earliest chance on 0808 800 0510 so we can help them make preparations for being on Universal Credit.”
Research shows mental health professionals are fighting fires, rather then delivering treatment
New research published today has found that mental health professionals are being forced to deal with patients’ wider problems rather than treating their illness, as more and more of them struggle with issues such as debt and benefits.
A report by the Money and Mental Health Institute reveals mental health professionals - including psychiatrists and mental health nurses - feel they have to tackle these urgent practical issues before they can focus on their patients’ mental health. The practical tasks being done by mental health professionals include:
Filling in benefits paperwork
Making telephone calls or writing letters to creditors
Accompanying service users to advice appointments
Giving practical advice about budgeting and managing debts.
The findings come as Citizens Advice releases new research showing the number of people turning to the charity for help who report having a mental health problem has increased by 9% in the past year.
The new report also shows that people with mental health problems are more likely to face a web of complex issues, each dealing with an average of five problems ranging from money worries to problems at work.
Debt is a particular problem and Citizens Advice finds that of people with mental health problems who it supports:
A third need advice on debts, compared with a fifth of all people it helps.
Almost a third (31%) are finding it difficult to manage financially, compared with fewer than 1 in 9 (12%) of the general UK population.
More than two thirds (67%) have needed advice on multiple debts in the same year, compared to less than half (45%) of people the charity helps who don’t have mental health problems. These issues are especially evident for ‘priority debt’, such as rent or council tax, putting them at greater risk of eviction, or visits from bailiffs, being cut off from energy supplies and even prison.
The charities have joined forces to warn that, in the face of increased consumer borrowing, the introduction of Universal Credit, and ongoing issues around insecure work, it’s more important than ever that people with mental health problems can get the help they need to tackle the complex challenges life can throw at them.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Complex issues like managing debts or dealing with employment problems can be so much harder to cope with if you have a mental health problem, but left unaddressed they can undermine treatment and make it harder to recover - creating a vicious cycle that is incredibly difficult to escape from.
“Practical advice and support can be invaluable to people’s financial and mental wellbeing, but this burden should not fall on mental health professionals who are already overstretched.”
Martin Lewis, Founder and Chair of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute said:
“Financial worries can hugely exacerbate mental health conditions and vice versa – the two are often intrinsically linked. Yet we’re all too aware that the NHS has only limited resources. Specialist mental health professionals spending precious clinical time on practical tasks, like filling in benefits forms or calling energy providers, is a waste of those resources. It’s understandable though, often people with nowhere else to turn in a crisis – such as when they've not received their benefits, or the bailiffs are on the phone, get in touch with their compassionate mental health professional – who feels duty bound to help.
“Yet this isn’t joined up. We need commissioners to make sure that specialist financial help and support is speedily available to people using mental health services, allowing highly-trained and let’s be honest, expensive, mental health professionals to focus on the day job of treating patients. And we need to help provide training to ensure that the specialists themselves know where to signpost people so they get help quickly."
In its new report ‘Joining the Dots’ Citizens Advice finds that 1 in 3 people (64%) said that receiving practical advice on issues such debt would have helped with their mental health problems. But more than half this number (37%) were not offered practical advice while receiving treatment for their mental health issues.
As these complex problems are left unaddressed it often falls to healthcare professionals to try and help. In ‘Whose job is it anyway?’ Money and Mental Health finds that mental health professionals acknowledge that they don’t have the appropriate training and don't believe they are the best people to help with these issues, but feel they can't focus on a patient's mental health until they are resolved.
Citizens Advice and Money and Mental Health are calling on commissioners to provide good quality specialist advice to people using mental health services, to free-up professionals to deliver the mental health support they are trained to provide and ultimately make savings to the taxpayer.
Locally, Citizens Advice Stroud & Cotswold District is working with the 2Gether Mental Health Trust to provide money advice to people with mental health problems in a year-long pilot project, supported by Martin Lewis. Sally Pickering, CEO of the local Citizens Advice charity, said “After only a few months we’re already gathering compelling evidence of the benefits of appropriate and timely money advice in helping improve people’s mental health. We will be sharing this with local commissioners and hope to work with them to ensure the ongoing sustainability of this much-needed specialist service.”
Help through Crisis - voices from the project
At the end of our first successful year of the partnership "Help through Crisis" project, we asked some of the people who we've worked with to tell us what difference the project has made to their lives. You can hear what they said in this video at https://youtu.be/8zKxq3yxWQk