Policy, Finance & Asset Management Committee
Date: 21st October 2010
Agenda Item No. 18(b)
Money Advice Review 2010 - Findings
Report by: Steve Grimmond, Executive Director, Michael Enston, Executive Director,
Fraser Thomson, Head of Environmental Services
Wards Affected: All wards
The purpose of this report is to present the findings from a review of money advice
provision in Fife, and to outline proposals to address those findings.
The Committee is asked to:
(a) note the conclusions of the Strategic Best Value Review of Advice Provision
2002 in relation to money advice,
(b) consider the findings of the Money Advice Review 2010,
(c) agree that actions as set out at 2.8 be progressed
(d) approve that Option 2 is progressed to secure a single provider of money advice
services in Fife by April 2013,
(e) remit the Head of Environmental Services and Executive Director POS to
develop the process to achieve this, and
(f) approve that progress is reported to Committee annually
Currently there is a mixture of mainstream, temporary and external funding involved
in providing money advice services. Services will face change and financial
challenge in the years ahead so there is a need to address the issue of
sustainability by developing a joined up approach.
To move from two providers to one, it is likely there will be scope to realise
efficiencies in the longer term as one provider is established.
Legal & Risk Implications
Current service levels may be difficult to sustain without funding being identified.
Development of a single service provider mitigates this risk to an extent.
Policy & Impact Assessment
An integrated impact assessment exercise has been undertaken to consider the
impact of the proposal to move from two providers of money advice to one provider
and found that overall; the impacts are positive for the client and other practitioners
Negative impacts primarily relate to the implementation of any change process
whereby staff may be required to move office premises or work for a different
organisation. Recommendations to mitigate these potential negative impacts
include good, timely communication to staff, phased implementation of any new
approach and ensuring the premises are suitably equipped and physically
Stakeholders from various Fife Council Services and relevant voluntary sector
partners have been actively involved in the Money Advice Review. Further
consideration of the findings and options which emerged from the review has been
discussed further by relevant senior officers leading to the presentation of this
1.1 In 2001/2002 Paul Lowenberg Associates undertook a Strategic Best Value Review
of Advice Services. The key objectives of the review were to evaluate effectiveness,
value for money, inter-relationships between advice providers, structures and to
bring forward recommendations for the future delivery of advice services.
1.2 Amongst the many recommendations for improvement, in terms of the then ‘Trading
Standards’ advice function and the place of CARF, the Review concluded that:
“It (Trading Standards) undertakes two specific advice service roles – money advice
and consumer advice. In each case these services are also offered by CARF and in
the case of money advice, this is a major part of the CARF workload. There is
ambiguity both in the Council and the Voluntary Sector concerning which
organisation should be used for referrals. There is no clear policy in the Council that
it wishes to fund two organisations that both undertake these functions as part of
their core service. We recommend that in future the Council does not leave
ambiguous the outcome of its service funding, and that there be only one
organisation funded to provide a lead service in each aspect of the advice service
model.” (p83 Final Report)
1.3 The report presented the case that all money advice work in future is undertaken by
CARF, meaning that Trading Standards no longer offered this service and the staff
currently undertaking this work be transferred to CARF. This followed logically from
the fact that money advice is at the heart of any local, general advice service. (p110
Final Report) A number of challenges were raised in response to this proposal
concerning; whether a performance and quality culture exists in CARF, whether an
integrated approach to the housing strategy could be achieved if this service was no
longer part of the Council, and the fact that since the Review identified a significant
change agenda for CARF, that whilst these recommendations made sense, the
timing was wrong.
1.4 The review advocated that it would be wise to ensure that the changes that need to
be implemented by CARF are in place before it takes on the whole remit of money
advice work. As such it asserted that Trading Standards retain a money advice role
over the coming period with some lead responsibilities to e.g. provide money advice
and debt management for people that get into unmanaged arrears and to provide a
proactive money advice service for new tenants and others who would benefit from
support in money management to prevent arrears developing.
1.5 The review went on to recommend that implementation of the new arrangements is
monitored and that adjustments to responsibilities, budgets and staffing be made to
secure the best results for Fifers.
1.6 The review firmly asserts that; “The option to give responsibility for all money advice
work to CARF remains in our view, the logical single point solution for Fife.” (p111
1.7 Since that time, the Council’s Money Advice Service and CARF have worked very
effectively under the banner of the Money Advice Partnership to progress their
respective roles and responsibilities but in also undertaking e.g. joint publicity and
funding applications to enhance services offered. CARF has also delivered on its
significant change and improvement agenda over this period which can be
evidenced via the annual performance reports to this Committee.
1.8 The issues of co-ordination and the configuration of structures emerged on the
agenda again in 2006 following presentation of the CARF annual performance
report to Policy & Resources Committee in November 2006. Committee identified a
need to better understand relationships with others with a role in advice and in
particular money advice e.g. the effectiveness of the joint working relationships with
the then Trading Standards, connections to the Housing agenda and the Local
1.9 In November 2007, Housing & Communities Committee considered a report on an
audit of Financial Inclusion activity which also outlined that a range of services and
partners undertake elements of financial inclusion and money advice work and it is
reported in a variety of ways to different Council Committees. Committee approved
that a more co-ordinated approach should be progressed.
1.10 Since the original Best Value review recommendations in 2002, and scrutiny by
Committees in 2006 and 2007, and due to reducing levels of funding, it is clear that
a sharper focus is required on approaches to service delivery to ensure that they
are delivered in the most effective and efficient way. In response to this and also the
recognition that there are various elements of money advice work currently being
provided, in addition to the demand for services due to the impact of the recession -
a review of money advice provision was undertaken in early 2010.
2.0 Money Advice Review 2010 - Issues and Options
2.1 The purpose of the review was to determine whether there was:
clarity in complementary roles amongst providers,
any duplication or gaps in the provision of money advice services and,
any potential to streamline and / or rationalise provision
2.2 Review participants were primarily drawn from those Council Services with an
interest in money advice or debt, namely Housing & Neighbourhood Services,
Social Work Service, Local & Community Services, Environmental Services,
Finance & Procurement and the main external provider of money advice services -
Citizens Advice & Rights Fife (CARF).
2.3 For the purpose of the review, ‘money advice’ was defined as information provision,
income maximisation work and debt counselling as a holistic approach. (Please see
Appendix 1 for a description of the role of a money adviser.) Only the services
provided by Fife Council Money Advice (FCMAS) and CARF are comprehensive
dedicated money advice services. Other Council Services and external agencies
undertake elements of money advice work which directly relate to their area of
interest or specialism only.
2.4 These services however contribute to the overall profile of advice and support
available for people should they find themselves in some form of financial difficulty.
For example; council tenants may be eligible for housing benefit or have housing
arrears, another resident of Fife may have difficulty paying council tax and fall into
arrears. It is likely that in both cases, there will be other financial problems or
unclaimed welfare benefit entitlements which should be investigated as part of a
2.5 Overall, the review concluded that the range of provision available in Fife is positive
and beneficial to our communities – advice and support is available from a number
of different sources and there are strands of financial inclusion work underway e.g.
credit union activity. There are also established partnership working arrangements
in place however there are also areas for action, further consideration and
2.6 The Money Advice Review 2010 - Report Findings can be found in Appendix 2. The
headline findings from the review are set out below:
a level of confusion exists over ‘who does what’
there is uncertainty in making appropriate referrals
there is a need for consistency in the ‘money advice’ offered via Local
Service Centres where it moves beyond expertise e.g. housing benefit
the place and fit of the credit union is not clear
there are a number of Services with a role to recoup revenue for the Council
whilst also offering some level of advice to those in arrears e.g. rent arrears
or council tax arrears – and therefore potential for duplication of effort in
pursuing arrears for the same client
there is duplication in the nature of the service offered between the two lead
agencies, FCMAS and CARF, however there is no duplication of client due to
the division of work based on the presenting debt e.g. people with a debt to
the Council are referred to FCMAS other residents of Fife with money
problems are supported via CARF
there is a gap in terms of a co-ordinated pro-active, preventative approach to
financial inclusion as a component part of ‘money advice’
2.7 The findings reveal that there is scope for improvement to ensure that services
offered are customer focussed and delivered as effectively as possible. The need to
provide greater clarity of role and maximise the impact of our efforts, and
investment, is pressing due to both budget pressures and the demand for money
2.8 To address the findings of the review in respect of referrals and co-ordination, two
actions are proposed:
Ensure clarity of role and appropriate referral arrangements – by developing
a ‘Partnership Agreement’ on respective roles and responsibilities of various
Fife Council Services and partner organisations.
Investigate whether the activities of Finance and Housing & Neighbourhood
Services in pursuing corporate debt could be further integrated to enable a
‘one council’ approach to debt recovery.
2.9 To address the findings of the review in terms of duplication of like service provision
between the two money advice providers, FCMAS and CARF - two options are
presented for consideration:
2.10 Option 1 – Retain Two Providers: FCMAS and CARF are retained as the two lead
providers of money advice services in Fife. The division of work based on
presenting debt as set out in the Best Value Review is retained i.e. people with a
debt to Fife Council are supported via FCMAS and other Fifers with multiple debts
which do not include council debts, are supported via CARF. Please see Appendix
3 for split of responsibilities determined by the Best Value Review.
2.11 Further effort is required to remove confusion amongst practitioners by promoting
respective responsibilities and referral protocols under a ‘Partnership Agreement’ as
set out in 2.8 for FCMAS, CARF and other Council Services e.g. the role of Housing
& Neighbourhood Services and Local & Community Services.
2.12 Option 1 does not require fundamental change to achieve improvements in referral
arrangements and ways of working across the Council and partners. The change
required is dependent on a clearer understanding of roles and responsibilities, and
agreement on boundaries and levels of advice and information provided.
2.13 This option does not address the issue of duplication of like service provision
between FCMAS and CARF. It can still be viewed as duplication of provision and
does not offer any scope to realise efficiencies or rationalise provision.
2.14 Retaining two providers may also present a risk to longer-term sustainability due to
the mix of mainstream, external funding and temporary posts involved. Particularly
so as Services face change and financial challenge in the years ahead.
2.15 Option 2 – Establish One Comprehensive Money Advice Provider: A single
provider of money advice services in Fife is required as there is duplication in
2.16 This option would still require that a ‘Partnership Agreement’ is set out but would
address the issue of duplication, provide clarity to other practitioners and the public,
that Fife has a ‘one-stop-shop’ for generalist and specialist advice services.
2.17 This option offers scope to consider the mixture of mainstream, temporary and
external funding involved in providing money advice services and to take steps to
ensure the sustainability of this service in the longer term. It also potentially offers
scope to realise efficiencies in the longer term.
2.18 It is recommended that to address the findings of the Money Advice Review 2010
which further support the original findings of the Best Value Review 2002, it should
be remitted to the Head of Environmental Services and Executive Director of
Performance & Organisational Support to examine the best way to achieve a single
comprehensive provider of money advice services in Fife by April 2013.
2.19 The Head of Environmental Services and Executive Director of Performance &
Organisational Support will fully engage staff and Trade Unions in any necessary
change process. A project team will also be established to oversee the move to one
provider of money advice services.
3.1 The Money Advice Review 2010 concluded that there is a range of provision
available in Fife and strong partnership working in place across Council Services
and with the voluntary sector which is beneficial to our communities. However, it
also found that there is a level of confusion, duplication in provision and scope for
3.2 Establishing one comprehensive provider of money advice services will address the
issue of duplication together with a ‘Partnership Agreement’ which would set out the
respective roles and responsibilities, boundaries and levels of information and
advice to be provided by other Council Services who have a complementary role to
List of Appendices
1. Appendix 1 – Definition of the Role of a Money Adviser
2. Appendix 2 – Money Advice Review 2010 – Report Findings
3. Appendix 3 – Responsibilities of Trading Standards and CARF, Best Value
The following papers were relied on in the preparation of this report in terms of the Local
Government (Scotland) Act, 1973:
Strategic Best Value Review of Advice Services 2002 – Final Report, Paul
Telephone: 08451 55 55 55 + 440984
Email – email@example.com
The following description of the role of a money adviser is taken from the Scottish
“..helping people to find solutions to their debt problems by carrying out income
maximisation checks - ensuring that people are claiming all the benefits and tax credits
they are entitled and supporting them to deal with creditors (people who they owe money
This includes setting out options for the debtor (person who owes the money), which may
involve agreeing to pay creditors through a Debt Payment Programme, or writing off debts
through bankruptcy (sequestration).”
(Scottish Government Website)
Money Advice Review, 2010 – Report Findings
The commitment to Public Service Reform agreed via the Concordat Agreement
with the Scottish Government and COSLA in 2007, coupled with reducing levels of
funding for Local Government requires a sharper focus on policy priorities, public
spending and outcomes for people and communities. We need to be both effective
and efficient whilst delivering high quality services in a joined-up way.
Building on work undertaken in 2008/09, and in light of this agenda, a follow-up
review exercise of money advice provision in Fife was undertaken in early 2010. Its
purpose was to determine:
whether there is clarity in complementary role amongst providers,
whether there is any duplication or gaps in the provision of money advice
whether there is potential to streamline and / or rationalise provision and if
so, set out what that could look like
A particular focus was placed on the level of Fife Council investment in these
services – whether that is in-house provision or via grant awards to external
This paper presents further context, the findings of this exercise together with
options on how improvements could be made linked to potential efficiencies.
2.0 Strategic Context – National
In addition to the concordat agreement and performance monitoring via the Single
Outcome Agreement, Scottish Government and local government share a
Community Planning where organisations work together, not apart, to
deliver better public services,
Best Value to secure continuous improvement while maintaining a balance
between quality and cost with emphasis on the customer,
Efficient Government and Shared Services where similar functions are
streamlined within an organisation, or across organisations, to ensure that
they are delivered as effectively and efficiently as possible
The Third Sector where its role is recognised as an integral part of shaping
and delivering the reform agenda whilst achieving better services and
improved outcomes for communities.
The economic recession and associated funding pressure for the public sector
intensifies the focus on the above programmes for delivery as well as the need for high
quality, co-ordinated money advice services to help people in difficulty. The Scottish
Government commitment to money advice provision is evidenced via funding towards
Training for money advisers and accreditation to deliver e.g. the Debt
Development and promotion of the Scottish National Standards for Information
and Advice Provision
The national document, ‘Achieving Our Potential: A Framework to Tackle Poverty
and Income Inequality in Scotland’ prioritises addressing the root causes of
inequality and identifies income maximisation services and financial inclusion work
as important aspects of tackling income inequality. Indeed, a recommendation is to:
“…better integrate and so improve advice and support for people at risk of poverty.”
COSLA, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Legal Aid Board are currently
consulting on the recommendations of a review they have jointly undertaken titled:
Review of a Strategic Approach to the Provision of Information, Advice and
Conclusions from the review include the need for a corporate approach to advice
provision, with local government leading local planning arrangements to co-ordinate
local services on the basis of need. It is advocated that this should involve better
co-ordination of funding decisions to ensure seamless provision from information
through to specialist legal advice across private, public and third sector providers.
The report recognises the need to maximise the opportunity for services to
complement each other as well as maximising output from limited budgets.
An implementation plan will be the subject of wider engagement later in 2010.
3.0 Strategic Context – Local
The ‘Fairer Fife Framework – Tackling Inequalities, Poverty and Deprivation in Fife’
document recognises the role of advice in tackling poverty and inequality and as
such, via an allocation of Fairer Scotland Funding (FSF) to the Fife Rights Forum,
various money advice interventions have been supported with FSF.
The impact of the recession has placed extra demand on money advice services
with waiting times for appointments, at one stage in 2009, up to 8 weeks in parts of
Fife. This applies to services delivered in-house by Fife Council Money Advice
Service and by Citizens Advice & Rights Fife. In addition, Housing &
Neighbourhood Services has seen an increase in rent arrears in 2008/09. There
has also been an increase in the uptake of alternative payment arrangements for
Council Tax collection to assist those in difficulty.
The Council developed a Recession Action Plan in January 2009 to outline actions
to be undertaken to mitigate the impact of the recession. The provision of
information and personal debt advice is a priority action within the plan.
In response to the national agenda for Public Sector Reform, Fife Council is
progressing a number of Corporate Improvement Programmes to develop a single
Council approach to customer management that improves efficiency, consistency
and satisfaction with customer service. This requires operating in an integrated way
and not in organisational silos for specific Service purposes. Access channels will
be via the web, contact centre and face to face via offices offering a ‘basket’ of core
services. This is a long-term change agenda however the provision of money
advice services whether it is basic information and referral, through to direct
provision of complex advice must be considered within this emerging environment.
The June PFAM Committee will be presented with a report on customer
management for its consideration.
It is clear that there are various supporting policy frameworks, both national and
local, which evidence the need for Money Advice Services, and the need for these
to be delivered in a customer focussed way.
4.0 Review Methodology, Definition and Findings
The review methodology was mixed and comprised four elements:
consideration of information gathered from initial review work
the completion of a questionnaire by external agencies and relevant Fife Council
face to face interviews with contacts
follow-up telephone discussions
An assessment of the information gathered from the original review work informed the
sharper focus of the review objectives to consider Fife Council Services delivering
elements of the agenda, and those agencies in receipt of grant funding from Fife
Council. A list of participants and a brief description of role in terms of money advice is
set out in the table below.
The questionnaire can be found in Appendix 1.
(Please note that the questionnaire is not appended to this committee report)
Fife Council Services Team Contact Brief Description of Role
External Organisations Contact Brief Description of Role
Citizens AdviceServices Fife
Environmental & Rights Fife Executive
Chief Council Money Holistic money advice service open
Holistic money advice service for
Advice Team people who have Fife. Includes
to all residents of a debt to Fife
tribunal representation for benefit
Council and for new tenants or
appeals. risk of developing arrears.
Social Work Service Manager – Charging
Contracts Income money advice is not for
Generalmaximisation service core
Team business. Referral arrangements in
older people (65+) in receipt of a
care package and Interest in housing
place with CARF. chargeable
advice and related benefits.
The Pension Service
Housing & Neighbourhood Manager
Estate Management Welfare benefit advice to people in
Information and entitlement checks
Services for +60s for DWP benefits. Alsofor
rent arrears, including applying
complete Housing and Council Tax
benefits and assistance with income
and expenditure, budgeting and
arrangements to repay.
Housing & Communities Local & Community Provision of information and advice
Services (LSN) to mixed levels. More detailed
assistance on e.g. housing benefit.
Referrals to Pension Service for
entitlement checks for older people.
Budgeting advice, money
Kingdom Credit Union management, and support with small
debts and opening bank accounts.
Finance & Procurement Benefits & Council Tax discusses
who fall into
Discusses tailored payment
arrangements for Council Tax
arrears. Negotiate a repayment plan.
Information returned by participants reveals that the term ‘money advice’ is used by
a number of different Services and agencies to mean different things ranging from
basic information provision, budgeting advice, welfare benefit form-filling to complex
advice e.g. processing a debt arrangement scheme, mortgage to rent applications
and representation at an appeal tribunal. For clarity, within the scope of this review
the term ‘Money Advice’ is taken to mean, information provision, income
maximisation and debt counselling as a holistic approach.
A description of the role of a money adviser is taken from the Scottish Government
website and detailed below:
“..helping people to find solutions to their debt problems by carrying out income
maximisation checks - ensuring that people are claiming all the benefits and tax
credits they are entitled and supporting them to deal with creditors (people who they
owe money to).
This includes setting out options for the debtor (person who owes the money),
which may involve agreeing to pay creditors through a Debt Payment Programme,
or writing off debts through bankruptcy (sequestration).” (Scottish Government Website)
Using the above definition and the description of the role of a money adviser, in
Fife, only the services provided by FCMAS and CARF are comprehensive
dedicated money advice services. Other FC Services and external agencies
undertake elements which directly relate to their area of interest or specialism only.
From an analysis of the information gathered and through discussion with lead
contacts, conclusions can be made in response to the review objectives.
Review Objective 1: determine whether there is clarity in complementary
role amongst providers.
There is a range of provision available in Fife however a level of confusion exists
over ‘who does what’ and a confidence issue in making appropriate referrals.
A particular example highlighted was frontline staff not knowing when to refer to
FCMAS and when to refer to CARF.
The place and fit of the Credit Union was not clear.
A further level of confusion is the ‘fast-track’ service available due to external
funding streams for some clients dependent on circumstance.
There are various referral arrangements in place amongst e.g. FC Services and
FCMAS and between FCMAS and CARF however there is inconsistency in
application, particularly in terms of FC referrals to FCMAS. e.g. high level of
referrals from the ‘LSN’ to FCMAS but low level from Council Tax, the Contact
Centre and Social Work to FCMAS.
Good referral arrangements are in place between FCMAS and CARF.
It is not clear what the role of the ‘LSN’ is and there is concern over the
consistency and quality of advice offered in terms of ‘money advice’ where it is
broader than area of expertise e.g. housing.
It is clear that the provision of financial assessment and income maximisation
service by SW is for a narrow client base only - however its fit with other
provision is less clear.
Review Objective 2: determine whether there is any duplication or gaps
in the provision of money advice services.
Duplication of effort in terms of pursuing rent arrears and council tax arrears for
same client. Likelihood too of housing benefit overpayment.
Number of Fife Council Services with a role to recoup revenue for the Council
whilst also offering support / advice to those in arrears.
Although there is no duplication of client between the two lead agencies due to
the division of work based on the presenting debt e.g. council debt to FCMAS
and others to CARF, the money advice service offered by both organisations is
duplication. (however CARF can also undertake tribunal representation where
Detailed income maximisation work is undertaken in FCMAS – 2posts and also
in CARF. SW – 4 posts, over 65s only. Pension Service over 60s. To varying
degrees, Housing and the ‘LSN’ assist clients with some welfare benefit form
filling and a level of income maximisation advice. Duplication in nature of service
but offered to different client groups to different levels.
There is a gap in terms of a co-ordinated pro-active, preventative approach to
financial inclusion as a component part of ‘money advice’. E.g. financial
education, money management, affordable borrowing, access to banking.
Current gap – possibly due to the organisation of resources - in terms of the
numbers of generic welfare benefits advice specialists to undertake income
maximisation as a first step in a holistic money advice service.
Review Objective 3: determine whether there is potential to streamline
and / or rationalise provision and if so, set out what that could look like.
From the above findings, which indicate a lack of clarity and fit amongst the range
of provision, duplication of efforts, duplication of like service provision - there is
scope to streamline provision. The objective of streamlining would be to simplify the
range of provision on offer, organise it in a customer focussed way whilst ensuring
that it is delivered as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Due to the gaps identified particularly in terms of proactive, preventative financial
inclusion efforts, requirement for more holistic income maximisation support in
addition to significant waiting times for money advice appointments, there is not
scope to rationalise provision in terms of ‘cutting’ or stopping a service which is
currently offered. There is scope however to reorganise the resources and skills
available, and the model of service delivery across the organisation and with our
main voluntary sector partner. This should lead to greater clarity of role and
maximise the impact of our efforts whilst also identifying potential efficiencies.
A Summary - Headline Figures, Fife Council Investment:
The table below is presented to show the headline resource investment in areas
where there is a level of income maximisation or money advice work undertaken.
Figures in relation to Housing & Neighbourhood Services and Local & Community
Services should be treated with caution but are included to show the scale of
resource ‘in the mix’. The calculation used is the number of posts multiplied by the
top scale point of the grade. Further work would be required to establish the % of an
individual’s time on this area of work to get a more accurate picture of the number
of posts ‘dedicated’ to providing information and advice on income maximisation or
elements of money advice.
Service Resource Investment Comments
FCMAS – Money Advice £444,000. (14.5 posts) £130,000 drawn from other
FCMAS - Income Max £54,000. (2 posts) £25,000 drawn from FSF.
POS grant to CARF – £264,370 (6.8 posts) Total POS grant award for CARF
Money Advice Service services 09/10, £993,863
Social Work – Income £83,000 (4 posts) 09/10 figure. Posts temporary
Max until 1st October 2010.
Housing & £1,713,375 (75 posts) Indicative figure –
Neighbourhood Svcs - ‘Neighbourhood’ only one
element of staff role.
£137,070 (6 posts)
Local & Community £1,160,840 (40 posts) Indicative figure – ‘Case Work’
Services - only one element of staff role.
£1,818, 202 (101 posts) ‘Customer Service’
Credit Union staff.
£ 49,031 (2 posts)
Finance & Procurement - No posts are dedicated to
Service – Council Tax income max or money advice.
5.0 Options and Efficiencies
To address the issues identified and in keeping with the Council’s improvement
agenda on ‘Customer Management’ as a single not silo organisation, the following
approaches are proposed for consideration.
The current division of work based on presenting debt between FCMAS and
CARF is retained.
FCMAS and CARF remain as the lead providers of money advice incorporating
income maximisation and debt counselling.
All FC Services who identify financial difficulty in those clients with a debt to FC
– above a certain level - refer to FCMAS for income maximisation and debt
If a client has no debt to FC, they are referred to CARF.
A single team is responsible for co-ordinating pursuing all debts to Fife Council
with a consistent message of support and assistance. (CT arrears, Rent arrears,
Investigate the feasibility of transferring SW income maximisation officers to
FCMAS and retraining on all welfare benefits. Financial assessment training for
FCMAS income maximisation officers to offer greater support for total workload.
Referral arrangements and protocols are strengthened.
Frontline offices take responsibility to handle enquiry, assess and decide if the
money advice solution is within their ‘gift’ e.g. housing benefit, council tax benefit
form filling support, school clothing grant and where a referral and appointment
with a specialist is required.
The Scottish Government National Standards for Advice and Information be
used to inform the levels of provision available. Possible model; LSN offices –
Level 1 generalist info and signposting / referral, FCMAS – Level 2 advice and
support, Housing & Neighbourhood Level 2 for areas of expertise e.g housing
and onward to CARF – Level 3 if appeal / representation required.
Housing & Neighbourhood Services / Local & Community Services also invest in
targeting pro-active financial inclusion, money management, budgeting, access
to affordable credit, banking etc to those at risk of arrears. Referrals to FCMAS
for income max and debt counselling.
The place of the Credit Union is strengthened within this proactive approach.
Does not require fundamental change to achieve improvements in referral
arrangements and ways of working. The change required is the in-house
organisation of resources and clearer understanding of roles and
Does not address the issue of duplication of like service provision between
FCMAS and CARF. Can still be viewed as a ‘cluttered’ landscape of mixed
provision. Unclear where efficiencies can be made.
The current division of work between FCMAS and CARF is no longer legitimate
in the current climate. A single provider is required.
Fife Council to determine all money advice support needs for all residents of Fife
regardless of presenting circumstances or need for FC to recoup revenue.
This would include for example; income maximisation work for all age
categories, including tribunal representation for appeals, debt counselling advice
regardless of presenting debt, processing the Debt Arrangement Scheme,
negotiating with FC services to agree repayment plans for arrears and financial
assessments for chargeable FC services.
FC to stipulate standards including quality of service, timescales and
performance outcomes expected.
Investigate the need to competitively procure such a service or feasibility to add
to current SLA and grant arrangement with CARF. (FCMAS cannot currently
offer the extent of services provided by CARF in relation to money advice e.g.
welfare benefit appeals representation)
Likely that either option would have TUPE or redeployment implications for FC
FC front-line offices to retain areas of expertise in-terms of LA grants, wider
service knowledge and assistance with Council Tax and Housing Benefit form
filling. All other income maximisation work and money advice support
requirements to be referred to the specialist organisation.
Housing & Neighbourhood Services / Local & Community Services to provide
similar expertise in the community but also focus efforts on providing a proactive
financial inclusion / education service integrated with the Credit Union to those
at risk of arrears.
The Scottish Government National Standards for Advice and Information
Provision be used to determine levels of provision and protocols.
One comprehensive money advice provider in Fife is secured thus addressing
issue of duplication of like service provision. It is likely that efficiencies can be
made by streamlining the various elements of provision into one organisation.
Greater clarity for clients in accessing advice and support easily and for
making appropriate referrals.
Significant change implications for staff in a number of different FC Services.
Further consideration required on the issues and barriers which are likely to
arise due to such fundamental change.
It is recommended that this report be discussed further with review participants,
Heads of Service and politicians to determine the feasibility and appetite for either
29th April 2010
(Please note that since the time of writing this report, the posts in Social Work have been
dismantled and therefore are not relevant in considering the above options. There have
also been developments in terms of the Customer Management / Customer Solutions
approach agreed by the Council which reinforce the need to establish clear roles and
responsibilities in this emerging new environment)
Extract from Strategic Best Value Review of Advice Provision 2002
CARF should be responsible for:
The publicised front line role for the public to access money advice through open
access, appointments and where appropriate home visits.
Money advice referrals from other voluntary sector organisations – in particular
advocacy groups, housing organisations and the BME communities
Money advice referrals that result from the single shared assessment process
Proactive initiatives in local areas and with specific groups to identify need and
Trading Standards should be responsible for:
An integrated response with the Council Housing and Finance services to provide
money advice and debt management for people that gets into unmanaged arrears.
A proactive money advice service for new tenants and others who would benefit
from support in money management to prevent arrears developing
Money advice referrals from the National Debtline where it appears that the person
requires more support and assistance than is practical through the telephone
A pilot WEB based information and advice scheme initially targeted at small
businesses and self employed people [the details of which need to be developed
in the money advice strategy through the Partnership Board].
(Final Report – p134)