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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 07/12/2004
Notes of Meeting with Waverley Citizens' Advice Bureaux Held on 11th October 2004


Notes of meeting with Waverley Citizens Advice Bureaux held at
Godalming Citizens Advice Bureau at 5pm on Monday 11th October 2004

Present Gabbie Sharp Manager Farnham CAB
Carol Dunnett Manger Godalming CAB
Jackie Gaskell Manager Haslemere and Cranleigh CAB
Dawn Draper NACAB
Ailsa Rhodes Vice Chairman Godalming CAB
Peter Duffy Chairman Farnham CAB
Graham Cawsey Chairman Haslemere and Cranleigh CAB
John Swanton Assistant Director of Housing WBC
Roger Standing Central Services Manager WBC
Louise Goodfellow Corporate Development Officer WBC

1. The meeting had been convened by NACAB who had asked Waverley officers to outline what the Council would expect to see in a Service Level Agreement with the CABx in Waverley.

2. JS had set out some parameters for this discussion with the Waverley CABx in an e-mail (19th September 2004 attached) to Dawn Draper of NACAB.

3. Before a discussion ensued about the substantive issue, for which the meeting was convened, DD stated that the CABx were unhappy that notes of feedback from the July CAB Review Workshop had not been sent to them although they were aware notes had been produced. It transpired that at a meeting of the Surrey Community Legal Services, the issue of the Waverley CAB Review had been raised and its officer had written to the Leader of the Council. The Leader of the Council’s letter of reply had included, inter alia, a copy of the notes of the July Workshop. This correspondence had been copied to the CABx.

4. JS apologised for this omission on Waverley’s part, but also asked why CAB had not asked for a copy rather than waiting until this meeting to raise the matter. RS undertook to send notes out to CAB for comment prior to them being appended to an update report on the review which was going to Community O&S Committee in early November. RS stressed the November O&S meeting would not be reaching final conclusions on the review.

5. The discussion then covered the substantive issue for the evening – Waverley’s expectations of a CABx service for Waverley.

6. NACAB pointed out that to be an accredited CAB, certain core services had to be provided to an approved standard. It was not possible for a Council to decide that certain areas of advice work should not be provided by a CABx – as seemed to be implied in JS’s email (eg that Waverley was ‘less interested in Consumer advice, health related advice etc). CABx provided a ‘package’ of advice services, much of which was, in any event, inter-connected. Indeed, Approximately 20% of client enquiries related to consumer advise, health and tax issues.

7. The three funding scenarios were noted. It was recognised that there would always be a trade-off between service provided and funding – Waverley funding, it was considered by the CABx, was the foundation stone for all other funding. It had proved difficult raise voluntary donations from the public.

8. It was also noted that significant financial support was provided by Surrey County Council to CABx through the Surrey Welfare service which provides advice on social security and community care issues.

9. The CABx had not undertaken any additional work in respect of considering the three funding scenario, not least because they considered the possibility of a funding increase unlikely.

10. The CABx had previously undertaken an exercise looking at different ways of providing the service. They had concluded that the 4 bureaux model was the most effective and that a single bureau with outreach services would provide a much lesser service. Currently all premises provide 3 – 4 interview rooms which are necessary. There are developments in terms of outreach services such as Farnham Hospital and Chiddingfold. Question was asked as to how many people WBC wanted to receive the service.

11. JS explained the challenging budgetary situation facing Waverley in 2005/06 as a context to the funding of CABx.

12. There was discussion around the provision of a District Model of CAB service as WBC officers would be seeing at the forthcoming West Wiltshire District Council visit as compared to the current position of three separate legal entities with the need for developing/negotiating three separate service level agreements. Also basing funding on per capita basis.

13. The CABx representatives were clear that they had an over-riding duty to protect the interests of their separate corporate entities. There was no appetite on the part of the three CABx management committees to merge to provide a District-wide model. It was made clear that should the Council wish to adopt this approach, it would have to be a Waverley initiative, as it would not be a CABx initiative.

14. DD (NACAB) suggested that it would be possible for an independent study to be undertaken by NACAB consultants on the feasibility of a district model for Waverley – the reality is it would be unreasonable to expect the CABx themselves to do this. Cost would be approx 4,000 to undertake this work.

15. JS commented on Surrey Law Centre reporting its highest number of referrals as coming from Waverley CABx and the issue of CLS contracts. There was some discussion on provision of internet service and the use of www.adviceguide by the bureaux.

16. DD was asked to supply JS with details of model service level agreements and models of different district/borough structures.

17. CABx undertook to provide information for the three financial scenarios requested by end of October for this information to be included in the November report to Community O&S Committee.

The meeting ended at 6.50pm