A Benefits System That Works

“Our vision for Cornwall is a place where everyone has access to speedy effective and caring welfare support when they need it.“

Below you will find:

• Examples of existing work in Cornwall addressing the theme.
• Examples of existing work outside of Cornwall addressing the theme.
• Proposals of how work in this thematic area might be developed and expanded.

Existing Works in Cornwall

Christians Against Poverty

Debt can be caused by many different reasons – ill health, bereavement, relationship breakdown or low income. Getting help as early as possible can make a big difference. Christians Against Poverty (CAP) are determined to alleviate the additional pressure that many people are facing.

We offer completely free debt help across Cornwall, we want everyone to know that our services are here.

This includes helping with practical things such as linking up with local food banks, arranging emergency fuel top ups, encouragement and a friendly voice at the end of a phone.

CAP is committed to its services being available to everyone regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

There are CAP Debt Centres throughout Cornwall based at Helston, Falmouth, Redruth, Truro, St Austell, Bodmin, Liskeard and Saltash offering free help to local people facing money problems.
To find out which CAP services are available in your area, follow this link https://capuk.org/i-want-help and enter your postcode.

If you are struggling with debt and need help, contact CAP on 0800 328 0006 or visit http://capuk.org.

Counselling and Benefit Support Limited (CBS)

Counselling and Benefit Support Limited (CBS) work within the benefit system and have experienced a process that is hard to navigate and often discriminatory against people with mental health issues.

Many clients struggle with their mental health, from stress and anxiety to more complex disorders. This often leads to an inability to deal with bills, meaning unopened letters, doors and a reluctance to ask for help. The debt problem and mental health issues escalate in a self-perpetuating spiral, compounded if a client has a physical disability.

In our experience, the Department for Works and Pension (DWP) regularly fail to take into account the issues of those suffering with their mental health, typifying the stigma against this invisible illness.

None of the benefits are easy to access, with long lead times and long complicated forms that rarely address lived-through problems. Too often claims are rejected, appeals have to be made and stress accumulates along with the debts. The pandemic, resulting unemployment and a local economy that relies on non-existent hospitality have all conspired to make life especially hard for those needing benefit support.

CBS believe the system is unnecessarily punitive and should be overhauled, particularly for those with complex health problems. We recommend a telephone helpline for advisors, specific to the benefit, dedicated to advisors working with clients with mental health problems.


DIAL – disAbility Cornwall and IoS

Information and advice is available to people living with a long-term health condition or disability, families, carers and professionals in Cornwall.

The Disability Information & Advice Line is open 9am-4.30pm Monday-Friday and staffed by specialist advisers delivering information, advice & practical support.

Our friendly, professional team can assist you with any enquiry and we can help with complex situations and we hold food bank vouchers and crisis grants.

Our advisers are also available to give you a call once a week, just to have a chat, make sure everything is okay and nothing has cropped up that you may need our support with.

“Thank you so much for all the information. It’s lovely to know that the support is out there. It really did feel that I was talking on the phone to someone who really cared and understood and I was not just a number in a long list of requests you must get. Thank you so much for that”


Care and Support – disAbility Cornwall and IoS

Whether we need some support with housework, personal care, getting out and about, travelling to work, or whether our needs are more complex, more of us are now choosing to employ our own personal (care) assistants, so we can have choice and control over who delivers our support and how and when it’s provided.

We have developed some support services to help you find the right people to support you and to take away the administrative part of employing people, leaving you with the best bit, getting on with your life!

Some people receive a Personal Budget (sometimes called a Direct Payment) from their local authority to fund their support, others receive a Personal Health Budget from the NHS and some self-fund their own support. Everyone is different, but regardless of your circumstances, we are here to support you.

Payroll & Employer Support:
We deliver monthly payroll services, so you just let us know each month the hours worked by your support staff. We will then work out how much your staff need to be paid, provide payslips and a summary for your records, detailing what tax and national insurance contributions you need to make. We also act as your agent with HMRC and help with all aspects of payroll, such as working out how much holiday your staff are owed, or advising you about their statutory entitlements. We also provide a fully comprehensive pension support service at no extra cost.

Managed Accounts:
This service enables us to completely take the pressure off you or your loved one. we can take control of care and support budgets, whether from the Council or NHS (they will make your payments to us direct) and we will then make payments on your behalf to care and support providers. we will also meet all the auditing requirements so you don’t have to worry about them.

Contact us for more information on:
Telephone: 01736 751929
Email: personalbudgets@disabilitycornwall.org.uk

Community Money Advice Launceston

CMA Launceston – we are a local charity affiliated to the national debt advice charity Community Money Advice and have been providing budgeting, debt and benefit advice to the Launceston area and beyond into the whole of North East Cornwall and West Devon since 2012. Our team of volunteers offers face to face, free and confidential help and support from our offices in the town centre which are now fully Covid compliant. Our debt advice work is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and all our volunteers attend and complete mandatory training alongside having an enhanced DBS check to work with vulnerable adults.

We have continued to support both existing and new clients during the Covid19 pandemic and are grateful to the financial support we have received from Cornwall Council during the past 12 months.

Moving forward – we have started to see an increasing number of new clients who are struggling financially due to living with reduced income due to furlough or losing their jobs altogether and facing a world of benefits to which they have never been exposed to before. Finding out which benefits you are entitled to is not easy and we are there to help our clients through the maze of information available especially those who have limited or non-existent access to the Internet.

The Launceston Community Project is a community-based project (supported by funding from Tesco and the National Lottery) to provide practical help and support to anyone impacted by loss of employment in the Launceston area due to COVID19.

The project started in October 2020 offering Face to Face meetings, help and advice with budgeting, claiming benefits, CVs, applying for jobs, grants available, signposting to other agencies and general all-round support if you are struggling. We hope to be able to resume offering face to face networking on April 14th 2021, so look out for updates on our Facebook page. www.facebook.com/Launceston-Community-Project

Those using the project typically begin with the Job Centre but many need a lot more help and support and this project aims to make signposting personal and supportive.

CMA Launceston is coordinating the project with support from the following organisations, alongside help from the wider community: • Gateway Church Launceston • Orchard Centre Launceston • Job Centre Launceston • Salvation Army Launceston • New Tomorrow • Step into Learning • Konnect


Citizens Advice Cornwall

Citizens Advice offers free, independent and confidential help to all members of society and last year helped 9,500 people in Cornwall.
As a local charity, we know the issues people face and offer guidance on many subjects, including benefits, debt, employment, housing, discrimination and relationship breakdowns – often these issues are linked.

Advisers work from nine offices, from Jobcentres, Cornwall Council Family Hubs and outreach sessions. We have a network of computers for face-to-face online sessions at community centres, village halls, libraries and foodbanks.

Because benefits claims are often connected to other problems, we also provide services to tackle some of the root causes of the issues we see. Specialist projects help young, disadvantaged people with budgeting skills; help young people who not in education, employment or training reduce their energy bills and teach money awareness in local schools. We work with many organisations – providing debt advice to mental health clients at Pentreath and Money Matters – an ongoing advice service for vulnerable families for Cornwall Council.

We provide advice on benefits for cancer patients with Macmillan and specialist help for domestic abuse survivors. Our Campaigns Team raises awareness on issues such as scams and consumer rights and gathers evidence and lobbies for changes in rules and legislation at a national and local level.


Existing Works Outside of Cornwall

Universal Basic Income

Universal Basic Income (UBI) describes a number of proposals where the state provides income for all citizens, without any conditions attached, and regardless of other resources. The Economic Committee of the London Assembly voted in favour of a UBI pilot in the capital.

Elsewhere UN Assistant Secretary General Kanni Wignaraja, has said a new social contract needs to emerge from this crisis that rebalances deep inequalities prevalent across societies. To put it bluntly: The question should no longer be whether resources for effective social protection should be found – but how they can be found. UBI promises to be a valuable part of such a system.

Countries like the US and Canada are already discussing plans like this. For decades now, Alaska has been making annual UBI payments to every state resident. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged CAD$2,000 a month for the next four months to workers that have lost their income as a result of the pandemic – a short-term form of UBI.  We now have an opportunity to expand UBI and we should, making it work in the long term.

Churches Housing Acting Team

Churches Housing Acting Team have been providing free, impartial support and advice for 25 years.

They believe that everyone is entitled to decent, secure and affordable housing – somewhere to call home. Their office is based in Tiverton but their services are available to anyone in the Mid Devon area. They offer help and advice in the areas of housing, tenancy support, foodbank and debt advice from a single town centre location with good access to public transport and parking. They liaise with other agencies, provide debt and money advice, act as advocates, provide help with filling in forms, provide tenancy support, housing advice and house the town’s Foodbank.



Citizens Advice Cornwall – £WISE-UP!

We would like local authority funding to expand a project giving people skills to manage their money and budget.

£Wise-Up! run by Citizens Advice Cornwall, is aimed at people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) who are experiencing difficulties handling money. The aim is to tackle one of the root causes of debt and benefits issues before they happen.

The project is funded by the European Social Fund, to December 2022 in North and South East Cornwall. Like many third sector projects, short term funding – while welcome – often means valuable work has be abandoned even when proving successful.

Participants receive one-to-one help with household budgeting and saving to prevent building-up debts in future. They are also signposted to support for debt, help with energy bills, grants, education and employment support where needed. Trained staff teach basic money skills and offers tips and advice on a range of issues, such handling priority bills, making sensible purchasing decisions and planning for future needs.

Kerry, a single mum on Universal Credit, came to us because she wanted driving lessons and to buy a car to improve her job opportunities. Although she felt she was good at sorting out her money, she never seemed to have enough left to move forward.

We worked with her on making changes to reduce her outgoings. She has also had conversations with relatives about sorting their own finances out, as they had become used to borrowing money from her.

She is now building-up her savings and we have arranged follow-up meetings to see how it’s going and if her goals are being met or need adjusting. She is on the way to taking driving lessons, widening her job opportunities, increasing her income and improving her future prospects.

We would like this successful scheme to have a future, once ESF funding ends, and for project to be extended across the whole of Cornwall.


Launceston Community Hub

Launceston Community Hub – CMA Launceston has a vision to explore, develop and deliver a community-centred support unit that goes beyond providing debt, benefit and budgeting advice and builds on the work currently in progress with the Launceston Community Project akin to what we have seen is achievable in Tiverton, Devon.

This would create a safe space to provide a comprehensive service to the local community where local public, private and third sector organisations would either be based in or come into on a regular basis to provide their specialist services.

We plan to hold an initial meeting with organisations we currently work with to explore and determine how best to proceed later this year.