Citizens Advice.

Carl1960

Clanker
To be fair the CAB are volunteers mainly. To be realistic they are not always the best. I used to work for DHSS someone at a local CAB accused a collegue of mine of making a "racist" stament. Lucky for her I was in the room and overheard everything that was said. The men in black came to investigate (you don't just get them investigating UFOs you know0. I gave them my statement the bloke who made the complaint couldn't be bothered to meet the investigation team and the whole thing was dropped, not without causing my workmate considerable stress. I personally went to CAB a couble of times and I can say without reservation they were completely useless. After spending 18 years in DHSS I approached them to volunteer as I had at the time an extensive knowledge of the benefit system, they couldn't even be bothered to reply to me.
 

ancienturion

LE
Book Reviewer
Yeah, I was thinking of doing that, or SSAFA, who already have my details.

I reckon SSAFA or RBL are both far more helpful than the CAB system.
 

Truxx

LE
It’s nothing sensitive. Universal Credit are refusing to help with my rent, despite the fact that I satisfy every category they ask for (except the one about having children living with me). Medically, financially, historically, having been homeless for two years before this flat, even being a ‘veteran’ (their definition, not mine). Just a few of the categories should officially qualify their requirements, let alone having 95% of them.

My local jobcentre has sent mountains of paperwork to Ballymena to support my case, but they have simply ignored them, haven’t even acknowledged receipt of them.

The jobcentre told me to make an official appeal, and although I’m perfectly capable of filling out forms, they recommended that I get CAB help to complete the forms because they do it all the time.

I’ve also contacted my MP, but I’ve got to fill out a form before she will see me, and although she emailed it in Word format, I’m unable to complete it on an IPhone, so she’s going to have to send physically to me, which takes more time.
Contact RBL.

Generally CAB are excellent but not good at specific cases, more general advice.
 
ASAP, sometimes located in CAB Offices, were excellent. Probably cover England & Wales.
 

Aphra

War Hero
Contact RBL.

Generally CAB are excellent but not good at specific cases, more general advice.
Absolutely this.

As I said in my earlier post, because each branch of CAB is independent, they have their own budgetary constraints and their own priorities for advice provision. My local branch has, as stated, 24 staff but only 11 full-time employees (the ones who attend the quarterly free lunch I referred to being the substantive staff, not volunteers). Only the substantive staff get in depth specialist training and, certainly on the debt advice side, the approach is very adversarial, with a distinct whiff of barrack room lawyering about most of them. They would boast at these quarterly meetings about how they'd given some creditor or other the run around to show how clever they were.

My former organisation has a repayment ethos where, if a debt can be repaid within about six years, that would be recommended because, after all, it's what the debtor contracted to do and over that six year period we gave the client support in learning how to budget so they wouldn't be reliant on credit in future. CAB don't do that. They seemed unable to see that while they were tapdancing around creditors showing off how clever they were, the poor bloody clients were still being stressed out by the bombardment of phone calls, letters, emails and knocks at the door. CAB just didn't seem to want to have the difficult conversation with clients and would recommend ridiculous courses of action, such as offering £1 pcm token payments on mortgage arrears but not telling the client to cancel their £80 pcm Sky package. On one visit to their offices I sat in on an advice session and listened in to a phone call with debt clients. Both 'experienced' advisers used my least favourite phrase - 'no judge in the land is going to order you to pay more than £1 pcm'. I raised the point that this was potentially very dangerous advice and wrong on pretty much every level but I doubt anything has changed. Anyone who has spent even a couple of days in Court will know that you can't ever guarantee what a judge or even a Magistrate will decide.

When I retired, like @Ecosse I, too volunteered my services. 30 years as a Legal Executive followed by a decade in debt advice with experience spanning the public, private and charity sectors and massive experience as an advocate in both Courts and Tribunals. Added to which, my involvement in the local Money Advice Group meant I was a known quantity. They wanted me to attend a three day training session for debt advice. I pointed out that I've got a Level 4 NVQ in Advice & Guidance (which actually took about half a day to achieve) and was a specialist tutor for my former employer so someone else would probably benefit more from the 3 days than I would. Nope, I had to attend for box ticking purposes. I decided that my volunteering hours would be better spent elsewhere.

To try to balance all that, I know that CAB are reliant on volunteers to such an extent because they are constantly having to penny pinch and have fewer and fewer substantive staff. Their client management systems are (or were, they might have improved) archaic and I well recall inviting their local IT guy to come to my office for a demonstration of our online debt advice tool which was the first in the country, and it might as well have been witchcraft for how amazed he was by it's capability. Added to that, every year they are fighting for funding from central and local government so are desperate to show they are uniquely placed to provide advice.

Face to face advice definitely has its place but if people can't access it when they need it, nor rely on its accuracy if they can obtain it, CAB's offering will cease to be sought. I know Citizen's Advice, the umbrella charity, are trying to diversify their methodology to include telephone and online advice but the infrastructure and back office support just isn't there at the moment.
 
I worked for CAB for a bit on a voluntary basis. Fixing computers. General computer janny. No network or heavy stuff - they have their own paid bods for that.

They are good people for the most part. Quite Femcentric, shall we say, but that's ok. Manager was a bloke that gave the ladies their head. I got 'promoted' without asking to do the general duties that they do. Answering the phone, reading off a sheet, getting advice before asking people to call back.

There is a big database with the name of everyone who ever called the CAB asking for advice, what the results were. I was given the keys to this kingdom after building up trust over several months. The fact I didn't ask for it probably helped. I think they liked me / trusted me.

It's true, the place is not open for very long. The hours only get shorter now. With everything. Did an interview the other day on the phone with the DWP to keep my payments. I told the very nice lady that the bloke upstairs from me has made my life an utter misery for several years and that I can not get my housing association to do anything about it. First they take hours to pick up the phone. Then it's only email and EMERGENCIES. She told me she was hearing this more and more.

The whole country is closing down. Telephone conversations will be a thing of the past in a few years. Make the most of it while you can. It's not going back to normal now.

I recently got some very good help from the CAB due to a long running dispute over some trivial matter, but that is important to me. They still give good advice. Be patient. Call them when they are open (which is maybe not the best time for you). The people there are there because they want to be there - to help people. They don't get paid (apart from upper management). Be nice, be concise don't be entitled. And if you are lucky, they may be able to point you in the right direction.

I was impressed by the bloke that used to manage the CAB where I was. A pipe smoker! He certainly knew how to play politics and let the ladies run the place and get the best out of it all.

But you can have bad experiences anywhere. Everywhere is different. You might have just got the shit end of the stick. The people answering the phones defer to higher ups who know what they are talking about. If you make a good enough impression and if you are polite enough, and keep the pressure on just enough, you might get someone to help you eventually. Not ideal. It's a band-aid, triage of sorts.

Don't expect too much, but don't be afraid to be persistent. Depending on your needs, you may get something out of it.
 
Jesus wept.

I’ve just tried calling my nearest CAB office (15 miles away). Lengthy message talking the normal bollocks about ‘check our website’ blah, blah, blah, followed by several options. I select the right one and listen to more bollocks until I get told to ring the national number.

I get this from their website (deeply hidden) and go through the whole rigmarole again…… until I get the message…… to ring their national number (which I’m on).

Deep breath….. I ring it back and this time I ignore the options in the hope that I will eventually get to a human being…… after listening to about ten minutes of more interminable bollocks I get told our callline Is now closed (4.30), please contact your local office……

Is this intentional? Are they actively deterring people from contacting them, or is it just incompetence?

Bastards.
You need to select option 6.

Screenshot_20220505-082016_Chrome.jpg
 
Jesus wept.

I’ve just tried calling my nearest CAB office (15 miles away). Lengthy message talking the normal bollocks about ‘check our website’ blah, blah, blah, followed by several options. I select the right one and listen to more bollocks until I get told to ring the national number.

I get this from their website (deeply hidden) and go through the whole rigmarole again…… until I get the message…… to ring their national number (which I’m on).

Deep breath….. I ring it back and this time I ignore the options in the hope that I will eventually get to a human being…… after listening to about ten minutes of more interminable bollocks I get told our callline Is now closed (4.30), please contact your local office……

Is this intentional? Are they actively deterring people from contacting them, or is it just incompetence?

Bastards.
The CAB mean well, but virtually anything you want to know in general in the UK can be found in the public domain, it's more for the people who prefer clarification on things on a 1-2-1 basis which is obviously desperately needed in this day and age on an ongoing basis, posting a question on an open forum like this you'll get a sensible answer sometimes with a citation from the poster in the form of an official link, it's like Wikipedia which demands at least some scrutinization from editors by relying on official sources on info in the sources at the bottom of the page
 
It’s nothing sensitive. Universal Credit are refusing to help with my rent, despite the fact that I satisfy every category they ask for (except the one about having children living with me). Medically, financially, historically, having been homeless for two years before this flat, even being a ‘veteran’ (their definition, not mine). Just a few of the categories should officially qualify their requirements, let alone having 95% of them.

My local jobcentre has sent mountains of paperwork to Ballymena to support my case, but they have simply ignored them, haven’t even acknowledged receipt of them.

The jobcentre told me to make an official appeal, and although I’m perfectly capable of filling out forms, they recommended that I get CAB help to complete the forms because they do it all the time.

I’ve also contacted my MP, but I’ve got to fill out a form before she will see me, and although she emailed it in Word format, I’m unable to complete it on an IPhone, so she’s going to have to send physically to me, which takes more time.
It's amazing the gov/DWP is flocking to keep gen-pop happy in the pubiic eye by welcoming massive intakes of Ukrainian refuguees whom have transited through quite safe European countries to get here instead of helping at home.
 

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