EXETER MONEY ADVICE PARTNERSHIP FRAMEWORK
About the Partnership
Exeter Money Advice Partnership (EMAP) is a new collaboration between Homemaker Southwest, Exeter Citizens Advice Bureau and Exeter City Council. Both advice partners hold the Advice with Casework Advice Quality Standard certification. More details are available from: http://www.advicequalitystandard.org.uk/ In addition, the Partners hold the relevant insurances and licenses.
From 01 July 2013, the Partnership will provide a dedicated money advice service from the Exeter City Council Customer Service Centre each weekday between the hours of 10am and 5pm (7pm on a Thursday evening) and consists of the following elements:
- a full-time caseworker ‘on pull’ as needed by the Customer Service Centre staff to conduct a short (maximum one hour) ‘financial healthcheck’
- a full-time caseworker to undertake follow-up appointments following a ‘financial healthcheck’.
- a limited cover system so as to enable sickness and leave to be covered as best as possible
The ‘standard’ service rota will be as follows [2 caseworkers each day]:
To be eligible to access the service clients must live within ECC boundaries (or be members of a resident’s household) with a current debt to ECC or at risk of running into debt with ECC (e.g. rent, council tax, benefit overpayments). ECC may refer clients outside these criteria at their discretion, i.e. local welfare support fund applicants.
Clients will be required to sign an ‘information sharing’ agreement. Clients unwilling to sign the agreement will be signposted to other local services (e.g. Exeter CAB, Age UK, Young Devon, Community Housing Aid, Shelter).
Clients will access the service:
- via on pull at Civic Centre,
- via Exeter CAB,
- Exeter City Council staff, or
- 3rd party referring organisation
Clients referred on pull can be offered further pre booked appointments as necessary. All appointments to be booked by EMAP staff or, where appropriate, ECC staff.
Information Assurance and confidentiality
The Partners will maintain their own records for the purposes of insurances (where applicable). A short record of the contact (date and one-line ‘description’) will be maintained by the caseworkers on the Customer Service Centre client management system, including details of DNTU (did not turn up) and date of next appointment. Caseworkers will also be able to access DWP CIS system information, via the Customer Service Centre staff, in order to confirm the most up-to-date financial situation for the client.
EMAP caseworkers will comply with their respective organisation’s confidentiality, information assurance and equality policies. They will engage with ECC Officers as needed and in line with the client data sharing agreement in order to progress a client’s case. The caseworkers will work independently of ECC.
Dedicated confidential interview rooms will be provided for both on-pull and follow-up appointments.
On first contact, clients will be required to sign a data sharing agreement which gives the partners and ECC the authority to share data about the enquiry and to provide the best outcome for the client. At the end of each client contact the client will be provided with a summary of the discussions, next steps and agreed actions. The Partnership will use the common financial statement for all debt management work.
EMAP caseworkers shall work within relevant time limits and will keep clients up to date with case progress. Clients who miss 2 EMAP appointments without mitigating circumstances will have their EMAP case closed. Clients who do engage will have action suspended on their ECC debts whilst a resolution is sought
Branding, social policy and review
The Partnership will develop joint branding and documentation and work closely with Exeter City Council to promote the services on offer. The Partnership will meet with Exeter City Council at the end of each quarter to review progress and to report on any local social policy issues identified from the service.
Areas Of Advice
The Partnership will provide
- debt advice, up to and including DRO applications, and in certain circumstances, preparation of bankruptcy and possession hearings. Where a client needs help with budgeting, they will be helped by the EMAP caseworker and may also be referred for 1 to 1 financial capability coaching at Exeter CAB or other providers.
- benefits advice including form filling and benefit checks to be carried out as part of income maximisation work, including in certain circumstances 1st tier appeal preparation, and to assist clients with debt issues. Benefits work outside EMAP scope may be referred to Homemaker/Exeter CAB, or other providers.
Once a client has been seen “on pull”, they may have subsequent appointments. These would be with the same caseworker. Clients will not be switched between caseworkers unless it is urgent and unavoidable to do so. Caseworkers will record figures relating to annual benefits gains and total debt amounts. Each caseworker shall have weekly designated time for admin matters, including monthly inactivity reviews of every open file
All client appointments will be recorded on a cloud-based shared diary system, available to Exeter CAB, Homemaker Southwest and ECC staff.
Debt cases will be closed once the EMAP caseworker has made substantive progress to address the presenting and on-going debt problems. The decision to close a case, as well as further action, will be at the discretion of the EMAP caseworker.
The Partnership will inform Exeter City Council Customer Service Centre of any staff absence by 10am each day. Customer Service Centre staff will cancel client appointments. On return, the EMAP caseworker will re-arrange cancelled appointments.
Where caseworker cover is limited (due to annual leave, training, etc) the “on pull” service shall take priority within agreed limits.
Welfare Support Fund
The Partnership will identify clients eligible for support from the Welfare Support Fund, including clients for whom a debt relief order (DRO) would be appropriate. The Partnership has a number of DRO authorised intermediaries.
The Partnership will provide a programme of ‘triggers and clues’ training for Customer Service Centre staff as well as briefings on welfare reform and related topics.
The services will link into the opportunities on offer from the local Credit Union and encourage clients to be savers as well as potential borrowers.