We are looking back at the work we have done over the last three months, in preparation for our contract reporting to RBK (our key funder) and for our Trustee Board (meeting in early February). This time of reflection gives us a chance to see where things are going well and where we may need to make some changes so that we can meet our key objective which is to provide: a high quality service for as many people as possible, focussing on those most in need- whoever you are:whatever the problem.
We have already helped over 8500 local people this year and in the last three months we helped 700 clients – 477 of these needed casework help, not just a one off query. We gave information and advice on 1577 issues and a further 1655 people found the answer they needed with our online self help materials.
We have recruited some new team members for the ‘front line’ team and the casework team. Front line staff work on reception, in the information centres and answer phone calls from clients and caseworkers spend their time researching the legal situation for clients who have more complex issues and then work with the client to negotiate with third parties like the Council or a landlord or an employer or the DWP to resolve the problem.
The majority of our benefit cases involved assessments about whether people were fit for work and we have a very high success rate at appeal for these clients for whom wrong decisions were made in the first instance and this quarter we have also been focussing on how best to help local people who will be claiming Universal Credit when it is rolled out in Kingston (June 2018).
We have launched a website with a range of information and materials so that colleagues in other agencies can be kept up to date and our Trustees will be deciding what we can do to make sure that people can make and manage claims for UC online and have the skills to manage their money when payments move from weekly or fortnightly to monthly. We are doing this planning work in partnership with the DWP and RBK so that working together we can make the best use of scarce resources and make sure no one is left alone in distress when UC comes in. A key point in this work is finding out what has worked in other areas where UC already exists and also to make sure we learn from things that didn’t work out well in those areas!