Making Advice Work for People in Inverclyde

With an increasing number of people experiencing serious debt and money problems through welfare reform measures, Scottish Government and Money Advice Scotland have responded by offering funding to front line advice providers for additional support and intervention to help those in greatest need. Making Advice Work (MAW) programme administered by Scottish Legal Aid Board provided funding of £7.45m to charitable organisations to provide money and debt advice to those affected by reduced entitlements in housing benefit, incapacity benefit and support allowances.Advice First Diagram

Three distinct streams were available to organisations:

1. community-wide advice

2. help for tenants of social landlords

3. thematic projects offering advice for specific target groups.

Inverclyde is amongst the hardest hit local authorities in Scotland by welfare reforms and we supported two projects to secure £286,964.91 of Making Advice Work funding.

Inverclyde Advice First

This partnership project brings together Inverclyde Community Health and Care Partnership, Financial Fitness and Legal Services Agency and offers a new model of working to deliver advice and information services to Inverclyde residents facing debt, housing and benefit problems. A more responsive triage system introduces a new free phone helpline service where skilled advisers provide initial advice to try to resolve problems at the first point of contact. Where people are at serious financial risk, emergency face-to-face appointments with project staff will be available on the same day. In many cases tribunal and representation is required for clients and cross referral is available for those which require the input of specialised welfare rights and legal advisers.

River Clyde Homes Extra-Care Plus

River Clyde Homes Extra-Care Plus secured MAW funding of over £103,000 to develop a project that provides an intensive, ongoing relationship with new tenants to reduce the incidences of tenancy failure. This funding enables employment of two part time Welfare Support Officers, who will provide 1:1 welfare benefit advice and signposting to the most vulnerable tenants who are taking up tenancies during a time of change to the welfare benefits system, to reduce abandonments and increase tenancy sustainment and tenant’s wellbeing in their new home.

Extra-care Plus also introduces new smart phone application technology that will be available initially to new tenants, including basic level financial inclusion advice, a reminder system for debt repayments and a budget calculator to complement the work of front line advice staff.

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