Monthly Archives: February 2020

Press Release ~ To mark National Student Volunteering Week, Citizens Advice Ipswich thanks University of Suffolk law student volunteers for their valuable contribution to our advice team

Citizens Advice Ipswich is celebrating National Student Volunteering week (10-15 February) by thanking the University of Suffolk Law Students who use their time to help people face problems that may seem complicated or intimidating as part of our Advice Team at Tower Street.

As part of a partnership, a number of University of Suffolk Law Students spend a day a week with Citizens Advice in Ipswich training into advice roles. This gives them the chance to put their study into practice and gain experience of how the law affects people in their everyday lives.

Training Officer and Students

The scheme is a WIN WIN partnership – the students gain valuable work experience and Citizens Advice get to help more clients by expanding our volunteer workforce. Over 70 clients have been helped to date by the student volunteers since October.

Nicky Willshere, Chief Officer said:

“Not only do the students gain valuable experience which stands them in good stead for their careers, but our volunteers here love having them around with the passion and commitment they show and the perspective they bring to the team. Long live the partnership with University of Suffolk!”

https://www.citizensadviceipswich.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/students-1.jpg
Reilly Willis, Lecturer in Law at University of Suffolk added:

‘We are pleased to be able to offer our students this module, called Clinical Legal Practice, as part of the Law Degree at University of Suffolk. It gives them valuable client facing experience and enhances their communication skills which will be great when applying for jobs or further studies. In this module the students have been putting the law into practice in a wide range of scenarios and developing their client contact skills. They will compile a portfolio of legal issues and consider the law as it impacts on peoples’ everyday lives as part of their academic studies.’

Don’t just listen to us, though, this is how former volunteer advisers say volunteering with us at Citizens Advice Ipswich helped them get on with their careers in law and finance …

Although I have not pursued a career within the legal sector after studying law, I have very recently been promoted to a regulated role within the finance sector (Mortgage and Protection Manager). The time I spent volunteering at the CAB helped me immensely, as it was the first time I was in the live environment helping and advising customers with their needs and budgeting. Without CAB I’m not too sure I would have started a career in the banking sector.

Lworking for a High Street Bank

Volunteering at Citizens Advice was one of the best choices I have made, as I was surrounded by like-minded individuals who are passionate about helping the people who are in need of it. I have gained invaluable interpersonal skills when advising clients. I would urge anyone who wishes to pursue a career within the legal profession to volunteer.

Tcurrently working as a claims assessor for a firm of solicitors

I found that my experience at Citizens Advice was incredibly useful at developing legal skills that are not acquired as part of a typical law degree, particularly client-focussed skills such as interviewing clients to gather relevant information about their enquiries; identifying clients’ objectives; and preparing accurate attendance notes of meetings. Citizens Advice was also a referee for my application to join a law firm as a trainee solicitor; I still work at the firm, now as a qualified solicitor in its dispute resolution department.

Mworking as a solicitor in Ipswich

Citizens Advice gave me the confidence to interview and advise clients in a supportive and professional environment.

Scurrently volunteering with Suffolk Law Centre and continuing training in law as well as advising with us here at Citizens Advice Ipswich

student volunteering week

Ending the benefits freeze won’t stop families facing the choice between heating and eating

MPs voted to end the benefits freeze by agreeing to increase income-related benefits by inflation on Monday.

While a welcome move, new analysis by Citizens Advice shows that almost 4 in 10 households that seek debt advice and receive these frozen benefits would still not have enough money to cover their costs by 2024 – even if these rises were to continue in future years.

Citizens Advice has helped people such as Sheila, 64, who works part time and receives Universal Credit. Her payments can change on a monthly basis, making it hard for her to budget and cover her monthly costs. She is trapped in council tax and rent arrears, and has had to resort to a foodbank.

She said:

“Quite often I don’t have any electric, so I’m very cold. I can’t even make a hot water bottle to keep warm, or make a hot drink. I have to stay under the duvet.

“Even in the months when I am paid my full Universal Credit and wages it’s still really hard to afford everything, including food.

“It’s all swings and roundabouts, I just don’t have enough money coming in to pay the council tax and rent arrears, the actual council tax, buy food and top up my gas and electric.”

The analysis from Citizens Advice found that the number of people who are unable to cover their living costs has increased since the benefits freeze began in 2016. In the first five months of the current financial year, 40% of the people the charity helped with debt who claim income-related benefits didn’t have enough money to cover their living costs – an increase of 25% since the freeze came into effect.

Citizens Advice is continuing to call for the government to help address this problem by increasing income-related benefits by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) plus 2% for four years, and to recalculate Local Housing Allowance, which determines housing benefit for private tenants. This will help provide families with financial security and protect people from further hardship.

It also argues that changes to benefit levels need to be accompanied by wider reforms to ensure the benefits system as a whole provides people with the right support. This includes ensuring Universal Credit gives people enough to live on by reviewing areas such as the amount of money retained by working claimants, and deductions for those dealing with debts or repaying advance payments.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Our evidence shows that increasing numbers of people simply don’t have enough money to make ends meet. While a step in the right direction, increasing benefits by inflation will not go far enough to help solve this problem.

“The benefits system was created to support people in times of need. The government should show it’s serious about meeting this ambition by properly investing in working-age benefits, and making sure fewer families are left in a downward spiral with no way to pay their bills.”