Post by the message mover on Sept 24, 2006 17:03:21 GMT
I've picked this message out from a conversation on another part of our forum. The message, from hwcab, asks legitimate questions about what a debt caseworker might do in their everyday casework practice in order to deal with what might come out of the consultation proposals
This Q&A part of the forum is PRIVATE and can be accessed by registered users only - use it to share your ideas tips and strategies on how you might manage the changes if you do debt work. This Q&A section of the forum is a benefit of registering and is NOT viewable by the general public and other non-registered users
Thank you to hwcab for starting the following discussion:
"Picking up snippets of information from the various contributors to this website, it seems clear that the proposed fixed fee for debt cases is so low at 2.5 hours because solicitors on whose figures the fees have apparently been based don't do multiple debt cases. I hope that the LSC will agree to a multiple debt fixed fee to at least give us a bit more leeway. However, if they don't, maybe this is the time to start a debate about the sufficient benefit of negotiating with creditors and ways in which we could put the client's case effectively and quickly. At present, we do a financial statement for each client and, where clients are vulnerable in some way, we write out to each creditor with a token offer (almost always £1pm) and a letter explaining the client's circumstances. Some accept, but frequently we get mired in pointless backwards and forwards correspondence where they insist they can only accept £5 and we insist that the client can't afford more than £1 etc, etc. Also, writing to the creditors in this way puts us in the loop for future letters from creditors, either ignoring the offer or asking why the client may have fallen down on his payments.
This is clearly not going to be a good use of our £127. Any thoughts?"
Please share your thoughts and ideas regarding debt work under contract by replying to this message - click on 'reply' below - I will be starting other conversation threads on other subject categories imminently
May I risk being provocative by suggesting that, once the financial statement is prepared and a payment strategy agreed (e.g. token or pro-rata payments) then much of the work in negotiating with creditors is administrative - monitoring who the accounts are with, sending out duplicate FS to debt collection agencies, keeping the client informed etc.
The other critical aspect at this stage is to re-assure the client that all is OK, explain what intimidating but basically standard letters from creditors mean, encourage them to stick with the agreed offers and so on.
Both these roles are crucial to ensure a satisfactory outcome and for good client care,but do they have to be carried out by money advisers? We have used our excellent admin workers to monitor / respond to the creditor correspondence and this has worked very well - the trick seems to be recognising when something needs an expert's attention.
We are now considering whether we can recruit and train voluntary debt "mentors" who could provide the client support. Not perfect perhaps, but it would allow us to provide a quality service to clients whilst still meeting the LSC requirement of lower case times.
And if the mentor identifies a new matter such as commencement of legal proceedings then the client can be referred back to a money adviser with a new matter start.
1) although i have already declared my self as the adviser creditors continue to send standard comptor generated letters to my client - so i send a batch of standard letters to my client - no headed notepaper - with sheets of carbon paper and get client to sign,keep copy, to tell them to contact me directly. better than replying when client sends to me. 2) use the softwear often advertised in The Advisor. 3)iritation when the creditor/their agent switches agent and doesnt get budget sheet and possible medical evidence as previous one doesnt pass on cos breach of data protection act- amend written authority accordingly. 4) auto text / standard letters/ with carbon paper after slight adjustments /compliment slips seem to be the future so can continue correspondense with other side in case court action cos think being ignored.
I have an excellent admin worker who takes all my calls and 'vets' them for me. If it is a client who needs reassurance she does this so that I am not spending time talking to clients who are unsure or panicky or who want just to tell me about the latest letter. I also give them a handout at the end of the first interview telling them how to deal with creditor letters, calls etc and this has reduced the numebr of clients ringing for support or advice. This means that I no longer need to speak to the client about what do next, and this has stopped some of the calls. However, you always have some who need more support than others
Can I ask a silly question, it may have been asked elsewhere on this site. Under the present LSC contract, to fulfil it we must register 1100 hours. If we accept 2.5 hours to be the norm for debt caseworkers under the new contract for `07, this equates to 440 new matter starts. Does anyone know what the requirement will be? I am writing this as my client has failed to show. This is number 83 for the year. If this occurs next year under the new contract, I fear someone from the LSC will be jumping up and down shouting at me. I`m only a poor debt supervisor trying to earn an honest crust.
Having quickly read through the new contract it seems that the LSC will be imposing a maximum number of matter starts per contract, so there is no certainty that we will be allowed to do 440 matter starts, even if it were possible.
Post by Mr Fiona T. Wardle on Oct 31, 2006 15:44:55 GMT
I am a bit late getting onto here - I haven't been at all well recently, and well, life, work, stuff gets in the way!
If the changes happen in April 07 (or later) then the only ways I can see of satisfying a massive number of matter starts to satisfy a contract would be to:
(a) have a team of volunteers to do most of my work for me (not practical - the CAB I work in in Berwick - a very small town with a very big rural catchment area - is struggling to find enough volunteers to operate a general advice service four days a week, so finding new volunteers who would be happy to do this work is a non-starter - not to mention who will train them, supervise them, monitor the quality of their work etc)
(b) work longer and longer hours for no extra pay. I don't think there are many of us who would willingly do this, and why should we? Justice, and accessing it, is a public service, with costs, and it is not to be supplied on the cheap. If the government are serious about ensuring that everybody can have access to justice, they have to have a commitment to meet the costs of satisfying the demand.
(c) split cases endlessly to artificially create matter starts. I say artificially because, as CAB worker with a client centred focus to my work, I cannot possibly agree that it is in a clients interest to only deal with say their rent arrears and ignore their 4 credit cards and that niggly bank loan. Or only deal with something when it gets to court based legal action. That would leave the client in a position of only accessing a partial solution to their problems, and prey to ever increasing unfair recovery actions by debt collectors as debt advisers leave the field of pre-coutr action negotiations
(d) only take on simple matters that are not expected to take longer than the 2 or 2.5 hours per case. Again that leaves many people without access to help. And that would inevitably be those facing the greatest difficulty, with complex court cases coming up, multiple and aggressive creditors, the most difficult personal circumstances. This goes against all the principles of delivering debt advice free at the point of service that is in the best interests of the client.
(e) find alternative funding. Apart from the F2F funding (or should that be FIF? I get confused) I see no ready pool of new funding opportinities on the horizon.
All very depressing really. And at this time too, with personal debts at the point where it might all just explode in all our faces anyway without any increase in interest rates, increases in unemployment etc to really kick the thing off.
I am finding it difficult to find anything positive to suggest. When I first started working to an LSC contract, I was seriously under-reporting time on cases, as it seems almost everybody else did and does who comes at this work from the kinds of backgrounds most of us seem to come from in the nfp sector. It has taken me some years to be more honest about my time recording. Maybe we will all just be forced to go backwards in this respect, and end up working longer hours.
I started writing this in the hope that I would have something constructive to say. I have been seriously struggling with the issues for some time, and am still not sure what we can do, if the proposals do come in as bad as they appear. Our small team are currently recording cases where we think we could, if pushed, split a case. So far that is the best we can come up with, without an injection of alternative resources, and that seems far away. Btu maybe I'm missing something? Am I?
I am now reading through the quality relationship delivering quality outcomes the preferred supplier scheme: response to consultation and from what I gather the supposed consultation was a complete whitewash with all the recommendations being approved, am I surprised, no the consultation was just another exercise to miss inform the wider public. I would like to see Carter or Baird to practice what they preach and go to a bureau and run debt cases under 2.5 hrs with the level of admin support most bureaux have on a regular day.
Since 2001 there has not been an increase in LSC funding so year on year bureaux have been adding to the funds of the LSC to maintain a level of service at the behest of other services within the bureaux and at the same time undermining the core principles of the bureau “Impartially and Independence”. I believe that bureaux should say no to the “the preferred supplier scheme” because at the end of the day they will not be able to deliver what is required of them within the time span.