5) Management Support -Financial Inclusion for service users .

A changing world

We recognise that the `world` has changed dramatically for both organisations and their Customers and both can benefit from our services.

The new Conservative government Comprehensive Spending Review  Nov 2015 continued with the biggest change to welfare provision with the stated aims of reducing expenditure and bringing the experience of receiving benefits into line with the world of work. For people living and working in both the countryside and urban environment the financial impacts arising from changes to Council Tax Benefit, the total Benefit Cap at £20 -£23K , Disability Living Allowance, Interim Payments & Crisis Loans, Housing Benefit Caps & size criteria, Local Housing Allowances, Shared Accommodation Rate, and the roll -out of Universal Credit from Oct 2013 -2017 means major reductions in income.

Some stability exists for households but for how long? Inflation and interest rates remain at record lows;Housing Associations who previously were able to raise rents at CPI plus 1% now have to reduce them by 1%; unemployment (except for the young) is falling (but may rise with impact of European and Asia economic slowdowns); the government has introduced the `Living Wage`. So we have arrived at a situation in which 70% of the people on `benefits` are in some form of work alongside 800,000 on `zero` hours contracts.

Most people on low incomes manage their money well but the above benefit reductions,the introduction of the Universal Credit and Universal Jobmatch raise concerns as to the support households will need in this new environment. Charities need to ensure that claimants are ready to budget for themslves on monthly basis, able to access the internet, are protected and assisted onto the new systems. Claimants who have debt problems, other vulnerabilities such as poor numeracy skills, mental health isues or substance misuse problems will need particular support and assistence. In an increasingly ageing population, among the elderly there is a need to ensure greater computer skills as accessing assistenance is now via this communication medium.

 Cara community services have developed a series of training sessions working with people using services to help them understand the new system and more importantly adjust to the reductions in income. For organisations commissioning these events the benefits include:-

– Improved wellbeing among tenants, service users or clients of charitable services
– Reductions in direct rent arrears due to improved knowledge and support to households
– Reductions in rent/service charges collection costs as people manage budgets avoiding courts etc
– Reductions in tenancy turnover, abandonment, and failed tenancy rates
– Rising levels of customer satisfaction and generating efficiency savings

For communities participating in such events the benefits include:-

– Greater social cohesion  by the promotion of community support initiatives
– Engendering change from dependence to self help for individuals and communities
– Proactive role for organisation beyond traditional remit to becoming `agents of social change`

For individuals the benefits include:-

– Removing fear by providing information, support and guidance.
– Building confidence to seek work, fill in forms and provide a CV
– Building Peer group networks to support individuals and communities
– Providing insights into how to control small household budgets

We will work with organisations and individuals researching both needs, devising strategies, launching initiatives and providing training as required.

So if you would like us to provide a tailor made package for you organisation, arrange specific training or simply discuss the issues please contact us.

Our discussions are free and as always confidential.

Please contact John Brennan on 01803852270 or email john@caracommunity.co.uk.