Barnsley CAB, which is a member of Citizens Advice national network of Citizen Advice Bureaux, is an independent Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee. The Bureau was established in 1964 and serves the whole Borough of Barnsley from its offices on Shambles Street in the town centre.
Advice is provided at Community Legal Services’ General Help quality mark level in all categories of social welfare law. The Bureau is subject to periodic audit of its Quality of Advice and Governance arrangements as part of its membership of Citizens Advice.
Access for new clients is via Telephone Gateway assessments and the Bureau is part of the Citizens Advice “AdviceLine” telephone service. By exception, emergency face-to-face drop-in gateway assessments are also held at the Bureau where clients meet specific criteria.
In 2011 – 12 the Bureau dealt with over 19,000 new enquiries. Debt is the largest single category of work, forming almost 50% of the total workload. In 2011 – 12 the Bureau handled over 9,300 new debt enquiries (around 40 new debt enquiries every working day), and in so doing helped clients manage over £8.25 million of debt.
The Bureau plays a major role in Barnsley’s local Partnership arrangements relating to promoting Financial Inclusion. In so doing the Bureau works with partners such as Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council (BMBC), Berneslai Homes, NHS Barnsley, South Yorkshire Credit Union, Shelter, DIAL Barnsley, Age UK Barnsley etc. and as part of this work seeks to influence social policy both locally and nationally. The Bureau is funded by BMBC to employ a Financial Inclusion Co-ordinator who provides support to local partners in developing the local Financial Inclusion Strategy.
Other social policy work the bureau has been involved with recently includes an analysis on the local impact of the Government’s Welfare Reform and associated austerity changes; the impact of debt locally, including the impact of payday loans; and problems people have experienced with the administration of welfare benefits. As part of it’s social policy role the Bureau actively supports local multi-agency attempts to challenge discrimination in all its forms and is a Third Party Hate Incident/Hate Crime Reporting Centre
The Bureau’s Trustee Board, comprising 11 Trustees from a range of backgrounds, plays a strategic role in the oversight and development of the Bureau. The Trustees are supported in their role by the Bureau’s Management Team, led by the Chief Executive.
The Bureau’s staffing establishment currently stands at 23 paid staff and 37 volunteers. In 2011 / 12 the Bureau received core funding from BMBC which was supplemented by project, contract and grant funding from a number of sources.