ROTHER DISTRICT CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU AND CITIZENS ADVICE 1066 MERGER TO PROVIDE ONE SERVICE ACROSS ROTHER DISTRICT AND HASTINGS BOROUGH
The Boards of Rother District Citizens Advice Bureau and Citizens Advice 1066 have agreed the two organisations will merge to form one charity from 1st September 2022.
The objectives of the proposed merger
1. Increased operational resilience. A combined entity will have a larger number of staff and volunteers to cover services (particularly during periods of staff absence).
2. Economies of scale. There will be savings of both time and costs in dealing with many legal, regulatory and administrative tasks and some operational costs.
3. Better management. The unified service will have a strong management team, who can share the burden of management and administrative tasks, so that the Chief Officer has the capacity to lead and develop the LCA.
4. A better service. The unified service will continue to operate in Hastings and Bexhill, but this will be supplemented with better support to the other areas of Rother District. It will also provide increased access to specialist advisers.
5. Financial resilience. The unified service will be well placed to bid for funds from local authorities and other sources. The management team will have the capacity to develop funding opportunities and the LCA will be able to offer funders attractive levels of service over the combined areas of Hastings and Rother.
We set out below the issues that are relevant to these objectives.
Better services for existing and potential clients
Historically, Rother District CAB has been largely Bexhill based with some limited outreach into Battle, Rye and the rural communities. Some clients in eastern and northern Rother needing general advice have however used the service at CA 1066 in Hastings rather than travel past to get to the office in Bexhill. CA 1066 has also been providing specialist services to Rother residents on behalf of the LCA in money advice, financial capability, digital inclusion and energy advice over a number of years through project funding. This has meant that CA 1066 has dealt with higher numbers of clients across the District. Some of its volunteers also live within Rother District and it is well placed to recruit further volunteers.
A merged organisation will be able to work with rather than against the geography of our area. Hastings is a transport hub for the wider area for both road and rail (CA 1066’s office is very close to St Leonards Warrior Square Station, a rail junction that provides ready access to different parts of Rother District). Transport links and car journey distances create a natural centre for a service in Hastings, with satellite services provided in Bexhill and improved access in rural areas. The latter will be enhanced through CA 1066’s expertise in digital access and proposed co-location with local authority services across the District. Access to specialist advice services for Rother residents will be improved through a broader based general advice service and greater awareness among and synergy with stakeholders e.g. by linking RDC housing officers directly into the money advice team.
This will mean an ability to support more clients, especially those who are disadvantaged, with a disability or facing other barriers, bringing a closer match between our client profile and the socio-demographic profile of the population. Earlier targeted intervention with clients to improve their income and expenditure will provide financial stability and improve confidence for progression into employment, improving their ability to pay rent and avoid eviction. This in turn will reduce pressure on other public services.
Opportunities to Strengthen the organisation
CA 1066 is highly energetic in securing project funding and delivering services seamlessly as part of an extended general advice service offer. This adds real value to clients and funders. Working over a larger geographical area for a greater population will allow the organisation to bid for contracts and grants more credibly.
The opportunity to become involved in research and campaigns activity such as anti-poverty partnerships should enhance the reputation and influence to create policy shift beneficial to our clients.
The robust processes for hybrid working – remotely and office-based - created by CA 1066 during the pandemic and strengthened through the partnerships created from developing a digital inclusion service for clients can be moved in their entirety to support service delivery across the whole of Hastings and Rother.
Call and ringback line: 01424 869352
Email via the website: www.citizensadvice1066.co.uk