Publicising Access to our Services
All libraries, welfare agencies, Wolverhampton City Council, medical settings and legal firms have publicity covering our services, sites and availability. We give talks to groups who request them, promote key aspects of our work via local media and maintain a website.
Methods of Service - Assessment of Advice Needs
You may access our advice services by visiting our bureaux in Bilston, Low Hill and City Centre Wolverhampton. We also offer advice at Pendeford Health Centre, selected G.P. surgeries, community facilities and the Combined Court (Housing). For the details of these services, please ask a member of staff or telephone 01902 572199. We offer a comprehensive assessment service on all subjects at every bureau and outreach location, and by telephone and letter.
Limits on our Resources
Following assessment we will recommend signposting, general advice, specialist advice or representation, either supplied by your own staff or any other suitable agency. Please be advised that on occasions it may be necessary for us to inspect original documents in order to completely assess a legal enquiry.
It is constantly necessary for our staff to prioritise time and charity resources. Over 80% of our activities are dependent on voluntary efforts. We cannot guarantee that cases shall succeed, how swiftly we can progress matters and how far we may be permitted to assist. If we cannot assists ourselves we will signpost you to alternative sources of help.
Specialist Advice & Representation
This is available in five main subjects for legal aidable clients with case merit. Our subjects are Debt, Housing, Employment, Welfare Benefits, Discrimination and Community Care, and we will run your case up to Social Security, Disability and Medical Tribunals and Appeals, in the County Court and to Employment Tribunals and Appeals. We do not currently run casework with Small Claims, Immigration Appeals or Consumer court hearings. In Debt Advice we can also assist clients irrespective of legal aid eligibility.
Final decisions about our ability to provide representation will only be taken when merits and evidence have been assessed, subject to a client's abilities to self represent and/or the availability of our staff and their skills range; such decisions will be made clear to you by the specialist advice staff dealing with your case. We will always require a minimum of 10 clear working days notice to consider representing cases at hearings (with the exceptions of eviction & repossession matters). Please be advised that the Legal Help scheme does not fund any tribunal representation.
Gypsy, Traveller and Showpeople needs
2009 turned out to be of great importance for several travelling communities in England. The detailed assessment of future accommodation needs for Gypsies, Travellers and Showpeople has been completed, which will inform planning requirements at local authority level via the Regional Spatial Strategies.
For the entire West Midlands region 1,301 extra pitches (places to park a caravan) are recommended for creation by 2017/18. The largest fresh allocations are in rural counties (122 in Shropshire, for example) whilst a similar number is the total for the 7 urban authorities, including some 30 more pitches in Wolverhampton. Alongside this provision will be more recognised transit sites, to enable people on the road to have stopovers (only 12 pitches are suggested for the combined Black Country area). Travelling Showpeople (a significant winter community in Walsall) require 118 plots regionally, with the majority in urban districts.
On the legal side, government suggests failure to adequately provide these facilities may result in development plans being deemed unsound, risking intervention, leading to poor enforcement against illegal encampments and failure to access state funds for site improvements. CAB believes the moral and business cases to comprehensively accommodate these unique cultural communities (after decades of ineffective policy switchbacks have often resulted in expensive disharmony) are overwhelming.
Wolverhampton CAB recently surveyed the circumstances and needs of Gypsy/Roma clients locally assisted during 2007-09. We found a stark level of disability amongst these clients (38%) and endemic low income (50% lived on less than £400 per month), findings which match long term national research. Conversely we noted low levels of debt and few snags with work, suggesting communities with refined skills in self sufficiency were also avoiding unsuitable financial products. But most revealing were the international origins of several recent clients (Romania, Italy, Slovakia, Eire) and the wide spread of addresses (including 10 wards across the city).
Gypsy people originated from the Punjab (India) over 5 centuries ago – an area with strong modern ties to Wolverhampton – and have travelled the globe since. Yet, all too frequently, small numbers in the UK are unable to find legal pitches in order to sustain their longstanding culture, with complex social, health, legal and cohesion issues ensuing from this dilemma. As the consultants charged with assessing future need have discovered across England, these and other travelling ways of life are not fading out, indeed there is both stability and continuity forecast amongst these small populations. 2009/10 could see the start of real progress towards better accommodation on a scale not seen since the landmark 1968 Act. CAB welcomes opportunities to share evidence on these important changes.
Staff Training, Equal Opportunity and Social Policy Work
All our advisors are trained for six months in basic advice giving and thereafter in further skills. Every member of staff is trained to identify and challenge acts of discrimination and work within an equal opportunity policy. If we believe that a policy or other organisation could be improved, then we may collect anonymous evidence to lobby the relevant bodies to make changes. We call this social policy work.
Quality, Compliments & Complaints
Citizens Advice, the Legal Services Commission, Investors in People and others conduct periodic quality audits. We comply with Company, Charity and Data Protection Act laws, are financially audited annually and are continuously monitored by funders. Each year we produce a free Annual Report and Accounts and hold a full public Annual General Meeting. You are welcome to attend.
We are always interested in your views and we conduct regular surveys to learn more about our client's opinions. If you are dissatisfied with any aspects of our work we encourage you to complain. Leaflets to enable this are available in all bureau.
Get advice on-line 24 hours a day!
For up-to-date information on the topic you require, simply click on the link below to go to the national Citizens Advice Bureau website which is continuously updated CAB information and advice on the internet.
This page is linked to the website 'advice guide' so any links that you click on will open a new window on a different site to this one. Please click on a subject for detailed advice.