Post by Colin Henderson on Sept 14, 2016 9:30:51 GMT
An ilegal reader working in a CAB recently posted the following:
"I’ve reached the point I just don’t care anymore. I’ve had enough. I want to find something else. The state of play at my bureau is much the same as elsewhere. Too much demand for a service that there is little willingness to fund.
We took a load of trainees on and then lost the funding for a trainer.
Universal Credit is putting a lot of pressure on the frontline. I’ve had zero training in it. I’m getting lots of verbal abuse from UC clients and that is somewhat understandable given the pressure clients are under. The pressures of the frontline job seem worse than at the peak of the recession.
Given lack of funding we are resulting to ‘gaming’ the audit by seeing fewer clients and spending more time on write ups. This means some vulnerable clients are getting no advice at all….
I’d love to stay with Citizens Advice in a non advice role. Social policy is the one area that really interests me but the reality is that frontline experience isn’t valued by CitA so I don’t know what I am going to do."
Is this a shared view? We all know that life in Bureau is tougher than it's ever been. Do CitA understand or are they disregarding the "frontline"? Views please....
Didn’t save my login details so I’ve had to create a new account to expand on the above….
I’ve reached the point where I am not enjoying front line advice work anymore. As I said in the first post there is too much demand, not enough funding and my job satisfaction has decreased as a result. I just want to do something else. I’m a bit burnt out from the front line in all honesty. Too much verbal abuse particularly from people waiting 6 weeks for UC. I want something where I am not dealing with constantly desperate situations. I want something less pressurised.
CitA feels like the only adequately funded part of our movement but for so many of the roles external hiring seems to be the norm. You don’t hire an impact and evaluation analyst or a policy researcher from the front line do you? I did interview to get involve in CitA’s social policy work and just wasn’t taken seriously by someone who hadn't seen the front line in 20 years. No rapport whatsoever. I might have the degree from a top uni but not the experience in research methods they want.
Like I said where else if my front line experience valued in CA?
yet when all the indians go there be no one left to deal with the peasants yet you soul searching without people like you then the peasants are sunk well and truly sunk even thou you feel like banging your head against the wall one must dealing with this government isnt easy has they want the cab gone yet change of government is needed to hope it change back to being a peasants champion yet without people like you then we are sunk
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Oct 17, 2016 21:51:15 GMT
Regrettably jeff3 I think you've hit the nail on the head.
There's never been a greater need for experienced and properly trained welfare benefit caseworkers to be on the front-line within CABx and advice centres. However, it was always the government's intention to do all they could to make sure people only got a limited amount of help, what they never wanted was anyone challenging their wicked welfare reforms in our courts and tribunals. This was the reason social welfare legal aid for benefits casework was abolished. Following which very limited resources in the form of the 'Advice Service Transition Fund' was dished out to allow the sector to come up with 'innovative' ways of finding the necessary cash to do the do the job properly. It was at best a 2 year 'plug the gap' exercise.
Some organisations do more than others, we still do a great deal of representation with very good results. A lot of the cases we deal with are highly complex cases associated with DWP allegations of disability and other fraud - all too often based on very poor decision making and targeted drives to make claimants look like villains. I'm seeing some appalling cases and challenging them is far from easy; but we do so with very good results.
However, we are only human and like others have already said on this thread, there's a limited amount we can do. I'm very proud of what we achieve and on a personal front I've stuck my head above the parapet on a fair number of occasions and taken on some very challenging cases with commendable results. What really brings this home to me is the desperate pleas I get for help via social media from those who just don't seem to be able to get the help they desperately need. It's a desperate shame that Cit A are distancing themselves from the very tragic cases which continue to unfold day upon day. My fear is this is all set to escalate for the worse from next year on.
There's a real need to listen to the front - line right now, not via online surveys, or via outcome recordings, or via some other form of communication where the message just isn't getting through. What we need is a proper face to face discussion with the powers that be within Cit A.
id rather doubt it iv had my share of cab end meetings with workers who tell it like the gov wants you to hear but when tackled they crumble under questions yet is this cit a the new cab how quaint if it is they use monies to change their name austerity wasnt for them but iv seen so many many good cab people lost to this gov cuts but sadly even those left find it hard to cope yet somehow you must find that way to help or those poor souls who rely need ones help will be doomed my english is poop nowadays hampering me but hope you all take note you do a job you hear the stories of dread but you must try atleast to banish the demons that follow has you are all the front line for those in the poop sadly one day youl lok back and say how did we manage it jeff
Since the above post I’ve had three interviews and three rejections which is pretty humbling. I’m still trying my best for clients and recently got a £500 consumer debt written off for someone which was pretty lifechanging for them. But I want to do something else with my life. My bureau is under such financial pressures that we took on a few people on workfare schemes. Why pay for something you can get for free? There is simply nowhere for me to grow in this organisation. What has my experience with CAB trained me for outside of this organisation? Complaints handling? housing associations? Where else is knowledge of the welfare system valued? That is what I am trying to work out.
We are seeing the most hideous welfare reforms in ages, on my part we are flat out with the full range of cases which we have the capacity to deal with, the capacity isn't enough but the demand is there. It's vital for organisations to consider the case mix carefully and ensure their capacity is dealing with sufficient numbers of cases at all competence levels. I see these levels as (a) advice and information (b) generalist + casework (intermediate) and (c) complex. The difference between (b) and (c), is (b) relates to cases where you are generally marshalling facts but applying the law (as in say an ESA appeal), whereas (c) is dealing with more complex cases where interpretation of the law is needed or the issues are legally complex.
I'm confident that (a and (b) can generally be absorbed by the generalist teams and volunteers but only if sufficient training/mentoring is provided by those operating at level (c).
It's a model which I'm trying to develop to help with our funding bids. I'm sure we can arrive at a ratio where we can forecast how many cases at (a) are likely to generate so many at (b) and likewise (c). It's paramount to show by conducting casework at (c) why it's necessary, for instance you can use a win at a tribunal or a complaint to highlight defective policy and then use this to feedback to funders on the cost of getting it wrong.
It's fatal to only operate at (a) as it's not meeting the true demands of clients at all, in essence the enquiry is in many cases unresolved ; - that helps no one.
CA, as I see it, need to use the skills within the service working at more complex levels to more vigorously fight the gross injustices we are seeing. It makes me wonder whether CA is muted on shouting out against what's wrong because it knows the service hasn't got the capacity to deal with the issues which need to be put right.
As I've said in a previous post on this thread, we need a conversation between CA and those who work on the front line at all levels. It's crazy that our help is needed more so than ever before but it's not being recognised. So long as everyone keeps quiet, the true welfare benefit specialist is going by unrecognised in many quarters. As a consequence there are few openings.
I’ve taken an advice role with another organisation outside of CAB. It requires me to advise on two subject areas so a bit more specialised than generalist advice.
Looking back there were two main factors that pushed me out of Citizens Advice
• Lack of advancement. I felt I couldn’t advance anywhere either at bureau level or at CitA. I think I was slightly stuck in a career rut. I found you get to a point where you can’t advance any further. I could have been trained up as a specialist or got involved in another area of CA work like campaigns. Every avenue for progression seemed blocked.
• My frontline advice role had become very stressful. Universal Credit. Benefit Cap. Reduced LHA rates. I began to think there might be advice roles that didn’t involves some of these things.