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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 11/10/2005
Review of Citizens' Advice Bureaux



Summary & Purpose
The Committee agreed as part of its work programme to undertake an in-depth review into the Citizens’ Advice Bureaux (CABx) that operate in the Borough. This report summarises the work undertaken and material reported and considered at previous meetings. The report sets out the final outcomes of the review of CABx and its findings for consideration by the Executive.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive


APPENDIX I
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE – 11TH OCTOBER 2005

REFERENCE FROM COMMUNITY OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

Title:

REVIEW OF CITIZENS’ ADVICE BUREAUX

[Wards Affected: All]

Summary and purpose:

The Committee agreed as part of its work programme to undertake an in-depth review into the Citizens’ Advice Bureaux (CABx) that operate in the Borough. This report summarises the work undertaken and material reported and considered at previous meetings. The report sets out the final outcomes of the review of CABx and its findings for consideration by the Executive.

Quality of life implications – social, environmental and economic (sustainable development):

E-Government implications:

Like most organisations, the CAB service is increasingly benefiting from technological advances and the national CAB CASE computerised management system is in use at all Waverley’s CABx. Aside from the existing channels of service provision the district based model of CAB service envisaged would promote the provision of web-based information and advice, e-mail advice provided through one borough-wide address and telephone advice being provided through one borough-wide telephone number.

Resource implications:

Waverley’s financial contribution towards the CABx service in the borough is set out in the tables below:-

DIRECT GRANT

Bureau
2004/05 Estimate
2004/05 Actual
2005/06 Estimate
Cranleigh and Haslemere
90,860
90,860
90,860
Farnham
48,720
48,720
48,720
Extra grant towards rent
6,000
3,200
3,000
Godalming
57,050
57,050
57,050
Total
202,630
199,830
199,630

CAR PARK REIMBURSEMENT

Bureau
2004/05 Estimate
2004/05 Actual
2005/06 Estimate
Cranleigh and Haslemere
3,280
2,000
2,980
Farnham
-
-
-
Godalming
3,300
3,300
3,300
Total
6,580
5,300
6,280

RENT OF FIRST FLOOR GODALMING CAB

Bureau
2004/05 Estimate
2004/05 Actual
2005/06 Estimate
Godalming
11,020
11,018
7,333

In the current year (2005/06) the Council’s overall contribution in support of Waverley CABx is estimated at 212,337. In addition to the above revenue costs, in 2004/05 Waverley also funded capital refurbishment of the new Farnham CAB premises (Montrose House) at a cost of 56,000.

Waverley is the prime source of funding for the CAB service. However, the Town Councils also contribute significant funding and in 2005/06 are providing 54,000 (28,000 Farnham, 21,000 Godalming and 5,000 Haslemere). Other income from donations and fundraising etc provides approximately 20,000 per annum. Cranleigh Parish Council does not provide revenue funding but owns the land occupied by the Cranleigh CAB.

Surrey County Council does not directly fund the CABx but provides support in kind through its funding of the Surrey Welfare Rights Unit which runs an annual CAB training programme, undertakes casework and gives second tier support.

The Haslemere and Cranleigh District CAB has obtained grants totalling 116,000 over three years in respect of its mobile advice project.

Background

1. The Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 15th March 2004 agreed that the review would examine and focus on addressing the following key questions:

(i) What information services from other agencies and organisations are currently available to Waverley’s residents? (ii) What does the Council want to achieve through its financial support of the CABx? (iii) What are the medium to long term plans of Waverley’s CABx? (iv) What are the views of the National Association of Citizens’ Advice Bureaux (NACAB) on the future development and funding of CABx? (v) What arrangements for CABx do boroughs/districts with similar profiles to Waverley have? (vi) Is the current position the best way of achieving the Council’s objectives? (vii) How can the service be constructed/delivered, or further enhanced with added value to meet the Council’s objectives? (viii) Are there alternative or additional sources for funding CABx? (ix) What are the views of town and parish councils? (x) Are there alternative or new models for the operation and provision of CABx services e.g. mobile CAB service, internet service, opening hours etc? (xi) What can we learn from best practice and initiatives elsewhere?
Summary of progress to date

2. A great deal of background information was gathered, all of which has been reported to the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee, as part of the review process. The paragraphs below set out the information and evidence collected.

3. In May 2004, members of the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee were afforded the opportunity of visiting the four CAB offices in Waverley. Following this, on 22nd June 2004, the Committee held a workshop meeting at the Godalming Baptist Church. The workshop received presentations from the three managers of Waverley’s CABx and from officers of the National Association of Citizens’ Advice Bureaux.

4. Following the workshop, Members of the Committee were invited to submit their own suggestions as to how CABx in Waverley should be funded. In addition, the CABx submitted their own proposals on funding and an officer meeting was held with the CABx in October 2004.

5. The CABx were further requested to provide information on three scenarios of CAB operation based on funding levels of 250,000 per annum, 200,000 per annum and 150,000 per annum.

6. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Committee along with officers have visited the West Wiltshire CAB office in Trowbridge and West Wiltshire District Council, the district being similar in nature to Waverley having five main centres of population surrounded by rural areas. However, unlike Waverley, where there are three separate CABx management committees, West Wiltshire’s CAB service is based on a district model.

Feasibility study by the Gillies Partnership into a district model of CAB service

7. The Executive on 7th December 2004 agreed to a request from the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee to approve the appointment of a NACAB (now Citizens Advice (CitA)) recommended consultant to undertake a feasibility study into a district model of CABx service as the final part of its evidence. The resultant study by John Gillies of the Gillies Partnership was presented to the meeting of the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 20th June 2005.

8. The Gillies report found that in Waverley the currently organised CAB service does not allow for the service to:-

Develop strategically
Take advantage of new and existing funding streams
Build productive partnerships at borough or county levels
Avoid replication in the delivery of services
Make best use of economies of scale

9. In financial terms both the Farnham CAB and Haslemere and Cranleigh District CAB were not considered to be sustainable in the short-term on income alone but could, by drawing on reserves, be sustainable in the medium-term. Neither would be sustainable in the long-term. Godalming CAB was found to be sustainable in the short-term but as a result of its leasehold obligations, would not be sustainable in either the medium or long-term. 10. In summary, the Gillies study concluded that a CABx service in Waverley would only be sustainable by a change to a district/borough wide structure. The new structure would create a single trustee board for Waverley rather than the existing situation of three separate legal entities, Farnham CAB, Godalming CAB and Haslemere and Cranleigh CAB. A district model would also require a reorganisation of the existing staffing structure.

11. Significantly, the report supported the provision of an outlet open to the public for an agreed number of hours each week in each of Waverley’s four main centres of population.

12. The report recognised that no additional revenue funding was likely to be available to the CAB service at the current time but stressed that for the new organisation to be effective it would be dependent upon funding keeping pace with inflation. It also indicated that with the restructuring there may be one-off cost implications that the CABx may look towards Waverley for assistance with.

13. The findings of the Gillies report were well received by the Committee and the proposed district/borough model for CAB service endorsed subject to consideration of the consultations with Farnham, Godalming, and Haslemere Town Councils and Cranleigh Parish Council. The results of these consultations on the district model of service were presented and considered at the meeting of Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 26th September and a summary of the consultations undertaken by John Gillies with the Town Councils and Cranleigh Parish Council is attached at Annexe 1.

CAB Management Committees – Progress update

14. The three separate legal entities/management committees representing, respectively, Farnham CAB, Godalming CAB and the Haslemere and Cranleigh CAB have been meeting together as a steering group during the review along with a representative from CitA (formerly NACAB) and our consultant John Gillies. At the workshop held at the Baptist Church in May 2004, the view of each of the three individual CAB organisations was against the creation of a single district CAB model but focused more on the issue of sustainable funding for each organisation. In recent times, however, the Steering Group has recognised the merits of a district model of CAB service and is now moving towards formally agreeing a new district/borough based structure. The views of CitA (formerly NACAB) have been a major factor in influencing Waverley’s CABx of the need for change. CitA are supporting the change process and have allocated funding to work with the CABx to implement the new structure.

15. The Steering Group is meeting to consider proposed governance arrangements to operate a district structure and has concluded that a single trustee board would be the most effective means of managing the new set-up. It is also understood that besides Waverley representation each of the four towns would be represented on the Trustee Board. At an early stage it has been accepted by the Steering Group that a shadow board of trustees be established.

Existing Premises issues

16. The Cranleigh CAB premises are built on land owned by Cranleigh Parish Council. In order to support the CAB and facilitate the construction of an extension to the premises, Waverley Borough Council leased the land from Cranleigh Parish Council and entered into a sub-lease with Cranleigh CAB. In addition, the Council made a capital contribution towards the costs of the CAB extension and the balance of the capital was found by the CAB. The provisions contained within the lease oblige Waverley to charge a market rent to Cranleigh CAB in proportion to the capital contribution that Waverley made towards the construction costs of the extension to the premises. The lease also obliges Waverley to carry out repairs and maintenance to the CAB building. Waverley’s lease with the Parish Council is such that there is no rental due from Waverley to the Parish Council while the CAB occupies the premises. However if the CAB ceased to operate from the building, Waverley would be liable to pay a market rent to Cranleigh Parish Council for the building

17. The Management Committee of the Cranleigh CAB offices is concerned about the potential rental costs, which are likely to arise from a rent review. Given that Waverley has not increased its grant-aid to the CAB for some years, the Management Committee is concerned about how they can meet any increased rental commitment.

18. In 2004/05 a sum of 90,860 was approved under Waverley’s Sponsored Organisation Scheme for the jointly managed Haslemere and Cranleigh CABx of which 42,330 related to Cranleigh and from which a deduction of 4,940 was made in respect of rent, so Cranleigh CAB received a net sum of 37,390.

19. It is the officers' view that the circumstances which originally necessitated the head-lease and sub-lease arrangements are no longer pertinent. Therefore, the current lease arrangements are not providing a real advantage to any of the parties involved and approval is therefore being sought to allow Waverley to assign or surrender the lease, subject to the approval of Cranleigh Parish Council, and for the Parish Council to make its own arrangements with the CAB.

20. The benefit to Waverley of this approach would be a reduction in the amount allocated from the SOS scheme equivalent to the rent currently charged to Cranleigh CAB, albeit that this would be offset by the equivalent reduction in income for Miscellaneous Properties, and would remove the obligation for Waverley to carry out repairs and maintenance. In addition, the proposed revised arrangement would more effectively recognise the Parish Council’s contribution towards supporting the CAB. Godalming CAB Premises

21. Godalming CAB has a full internal and external repairing lease for the Queen Street premises it occupies which ends in November 2005. The rental currently paid is 25,000 a year. Waverley has entered into a sub-lease for the first floor of the building at a cost of 7,333 (approved by the Executive on 17th May 2005) in the current year which will end in November 2005.

22. It is understood that Godalming CAB is in the process of negotiating new lease arrangements.

Conclusions and recommendations

23. As a result of the evidence gathered, the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered the list of proposals, issues and findings set out below:-

a. The importance of the work undertaken by the CABx on behalf of Waverley’s communities is recognised and greatly valued. b. The Committee welcomes the creation of a single district model CAB service with a single trustee board for Waverley as the basis of providing a sustainable CAB service into the future in order that the service is able to:- Develop strategically
Take advantage of new and existing funding streams
Build productive partnerships at borough or county levels
Avoid replication in the delivery of services
Make best use of economies of scale c. It is important to the Committee that while recognising the benefits of streamlining and developing telephone and e-mail services that the proposed structure should continue to provide a face-to-face outlet in each of Waverley’s four main communities.

Accommodation issues

d. On the issue of the Cranleigh CAB it is the view of officers that the circumstances which originally necessitated the head-lease and sub-lease arrangements are no longer pertinent. The current lease arrangements are not providing a real advantage to any of the parties and therefore it is proposed that the existing lease be either surrendered or assigned, subject to the approval of Cranleigh Parish Council. e. Godalming CAB to be encouraged to resolve their future accommodation issues before the expiration of their existing lease for the Queen Street premises and that there should be a saving on the annual rental on any new leased premises. f. Premises rental costs represent a significant proportion of the Waverley CABx total expenditure and it is therefore suggested that once established the proposed district model CABx organisation be asked to actively consider premises arrangements to reduce this area of expenditure and in particular to explore shared accommodation/facilities arrangements rather than dedicated premises.

Future governance arrangements for the proposed district CAB service

g. The Committee needs to consider Waverley’s representation initially on the Trustee Board being created for the proposed district organisation and to recommend an appointee(s) to the Executive for consideration. h. It is suggested that quarterly reports on the progress towards the setting up of district organisation be submitted to the Committee.

Financial implications

i. The consultants report on the feasibility of a district based CAB organisation referred to the financial constraints that faced Waverley and that no additional revenue funding is likely to be available. Nevertheless, the report identifies the future effectiveness of the reorganised service as being dependent upon funding keeping pace with inflation. The Committee is asked to consider this issue and report its view on to the Executive. j. Although not currently specified, the restructuring of the CAB service may involve one-off cost implications and the CABx may need financial assistance from the Council in dealing with these.

Recommendation

Having received this report and the evidence and information provided, the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee commends the Executive to endorse the conclusions and recommendations set out below:-

a. That the importance of the work undertaken by the CABx on behalf of Waverley’s communities is recognised and greatly valued. b. That the creation of a single district model CAB service with a single trustee board for Waverley as the basis of providing a sustainable CAB service into the future in order that the service is able to:- Develop strategically
Take advantage of new and existing funding streams
Build productive partnerships at borough or county levels
Avoid replication in the delivery of services
Make best use of economies of scale c. That whilst recognising the benefits of streamlining and developing telephone and e-mail services the proposed structure should continue to provide a face-to-face outlet in each of Waverley’s four main communities. d. That the Council formally request Citizens Advice to review its blanket no fee policy.

Accommodation issues

e. On the issue of the Cranleigh CAB that the existing lease between Waverley and the Cranleigh CAB be either surrendered or assigned, subject to the approval of Cranleigh Parish Council. f. That Godalming CAB to be encouraged to resolve their future accommodation issues before the expiration of their existing lease for the Queen Street premises and that there should be a saving on the annual rental on any new leased premises.

g. That on premises rental costs, which represent a significant proportion of the Waverley CABx total expenditure, that once established the proposed district model CABx organisation be asked to actively consider premises arrangements to reduce this area of expenditure and in particular to explore shared accommodation/facilities arrangements rather than dedicated premises.

Future governance arrangements for the proposed district CAB service

h. That Waverley’s representation on the Trustee Board will need to be considered by the Executive at the appropriate time. i. That quarterly reports on the progress towards the setting up of district organisation be submitted to the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Financial implications

j. That future funding of the CABx be linked to increases in inflation. k. That the restructuring of the CAB service may involve one-off cost implications and the CABx may need financial assistance from the Council in dealing with these.

Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

CONTACT OFFICERS:

Name: Roger Standing Telephone: 01483 523221

E-mail: rstanding@waverley.gov.uk

Comms/exec/2005-06/130