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Making welfare work locally FAQs

9 April 2014

General

1.What is this project and why are you doing it?

There have been major changes to the welfare system in recent years, and local authorities and housing associations have had a key role in implementing or responding to the changes or supporting people affected by them – all when their own budgets have faced increasing pressure. For example, as landlords they’ve had to both support their tenants and adjust their own business practices as housing benefit rules have changed. They will also be at the front line of support for people adjusting to the changes to how benefit is paid and claimed when universal credit is introduced more widely. Locally authorities are also responsible for a number of newly localised policies around council tax support and local social welfare.

Making welfare work locally is a best practice sharing project, focusing on work done by local authorities and housing associations to deliver and provide support for welfare changes. This will help local authorities and housing associations to learn from each other and will help develop and strengthen local partnership working. It will also help us to highlight and campaign on national policy issues.

2.What organisations are involved?

Making welfare work locally is a Citizens Advice policy project, funded by Citizens Advice. It is supported by an advisory group which includes representatives from local government, the National Housing Federation, Citizens Advice Cymru and two local Citizens Advice Bureaux, which have experience of working with their local authorities on welfare reform.

3.How long will this project last for and what else will be involved?

We anticipate that the main showcasing part of the project will last for around a year, but there will be continuing ongoing national policy work after this.

4.Can I tell other people/organisations about this project? Can anyone make a nomination?

Yes, you can tell other people about this project and can direct them to the public web pages. Anyone can make a nomination but only local authorities and housing associations can be nominated (although their work may be as part of a partnership with other organisations, including Citizens Advice Bureaux). The project is being publicised directly to local authorities, housing associations and Citizens Advice Bureaux.

5.What is ‘good’?

We want to see evidence that the work has been well thought out and that it supports people through welfare changes, helping build resilience and using local resources effectively. We are also interested in how the work fits with wider organisational objectives. We are using an evaluation framework that will allow us to examine the key processes used in planning, delivering and evaluating the work. We are not looking for ‘perfect’ and where work has faced challenges, we will look at how well those challenges were dealt with. We will showcase elements of work as well as whole ‘projects’.

6.Where can I get more information or direct others to get more information?

You can find more information at the Making welfare work locally section of our website. If you can’t find what you are looking for on the website, you can email us at: welfare.project@citizensadvice.org.uk.

7.What are the outcomes/outputs of this project going to be?

The main output from the project will be a web-based best practice showcase, on which we will recognise, analyse and discuss examples of good practice in work on welfare reform. We will produce blogs and there is also a LinkedIn group that people can join to discuss ideas and challenges. We also plan to run best practice sharing events and facilitate peer to peer leaning between local authorities and housing associations. Where appropriate we will also use learning from the project to develop our national policy work.

8.Why aren’t you looking at what Citizens Advice Bureaux are doing around welfare reform?

We know that bureaux are very involved in helping people prepare for and adjust to the welfare reforms. However, this is a Citizens Advice policy project and aims, therefore, to improve the experiences of our clients by influencing and informing policy makers and statutory and regulated delivery organisations. We aim to do this by showcasing the best work that is already out there and encouraging and facilitating the adoption of effective methods more widely. The role of bureaux and other voluntary organisations is vital to providing local services, and the evaluation framework will look at whether local authorities and housing associations have, where appropriate, worked in effective partnerships with such organisations.

9.Isn’t there enough best practice already out there?

There are lots of opportunities for sharing best practice, through conferences and forums etc. This project aims to dig a bit deeper and explore what worked and why – which we hope will greater support putting learning from others into local action.

Nominations in general

10.Can I nominate myself?

This project is looking specifically at work that is being done by local authorities and housing associations. If you represent a local authority or a housing association and you think your organisation is doing good work on welfare reform, you can nominate yourself.

11.Why would I want to be nominated?

We hope that local authorities and housing associations will want to have their work showcased on our website. Being showcased will help local authorities and housing associations to raise the profile of their work on welfare reform, helping to get support for it both internally and externally. It will also help to strengthen local partnerships and will allow innovative and efficient ways of working to be shared more widely, within as well as between local areas.

12.Can I nominate more than one organisation?

Yes, as long as they are local authorities and/or housing associations. If you wish to nominate more than one LA/HA for the same piece of work that they are doing in partnership, please name them all in the ‘who are you nominating’ section of the nomination form. (Other partner organisations that are not LAs or HAs can be named in the outline of the work that you provide).

13.Can I nominate a team in the local authority and not the whole authority/ can I nominate my local authority separately for more than one project?

We would like you to nominate a local authority or a housing association for a specific piece of work and it is this work that we will be looking at and potentially showcasing.

Showcasing a particular piece of work, or elements of work, will not be an endorsement for the work of the organisation as a whole. However, if you would like to specify that the nomination is for a particular team, then please do so. You can nominate your local authority separately for more than one project or piece of work if you wish.

14.Can I nominate anyone other than a Housing Association or a Local Authority?

No, although other organisations may be working in partnership with the local authority or the housing association on the particular piece of work, the nomination must be for the housing association or local authority.

15.Do I need permission from the people I nominate?

No, but you may wish to contact them before you make a nomination as a courtesy. We will be contacting organisations that have been nominated anyway, so if they don’t want to be involved in the project, they can tell us then. However, we hope that local authorities and housing associations will want to be in the project when we explain what it’s about.

The process

16.Where do I complete the submissions form? Can you email me one?

The form is available online. It must be submitted through our website. If you have any difficulties with this, please email welfare.project@citizensadvice.org.uk. We can email you a link to the form if necessary.

17.Is the form available in hard copy?

No, you must submit your best practice story through our website.

18.What is the deadline for nominations? Will you accept late submissions?

The deadline will be on the website. We are unlikely to accept late nominations, so please make sure you submit on time. If you have any difficulties with this, please email welfare.project@citizensadvice.org.uk.

19.How long will it take to fill in the nomination form?

It shouldn’t take too long. We are asking for a maximum of 500 words for the description of the work, but you do not need to write this much if you don’t want to or don’t know enough about the work. We have given some suggestions about what you might want to include, but if you don’t know all the information, don’t worry. Please just tell us what you do know.

20.What happens after I submit my best practice story?

We will investigate the work further, by contacting relevant people.to select the best examples to go on the project website.

21.Can organisations withdraw?

The project relies on the involvement of the organisations to be showcased, so if an organisation does not wish to be involved, that is their choice. We hope that local authorities and housing associations will see this as a valuable piece of work and will want to be involved, though.

22.When will we find out if the application was successful?

We will contact anyone who has made a nomination that we are considering promoting on the project website. We may start making contact before the closing date for nominations has passed. If you haven’t heard from us within 6 weeks of the closing date, it is likely that the organisation you nominated has not been shortlisted.

23.Who will be assessing nominations?

Decisions will be made by members of the policy teams at Citizens Advice, with advice and input from members of the project advisory group, which includes representatives from local government, the National Housing Federation, Citizens Advice Cymru and Citizens Advice Bureaux.

24.What if I nominate an organisation and they’re not successful?

We will be unable to showcase or even shortlist all the organisations that are nominated. This will be in part because we will be aiming to highlight good work from organisations of varying size and type to ensure there will be learning that is applicable to as many organisations as possible.

However, the fact of being nominated is, in itself, a recognition that work is valued locally. As well as showcasing whole services or projects that we recognise as good examples of how to make welfare work locally, we will also highlight smaller elements of work that are particularly effective.

25.Will you publicise both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ practice?

This project is about sharing what works well and we will not publicise any work that we don’t think is ‘good’. We will, however, include information about challenges that the work might have come up against, and how they were dealt with. This is because dealing effectively with problems and feeding learning back into the work is an important area of good practice.

26.Will my submission (or parts of it) be made public?

No, it will not be made public, although we will, of course, inform the nominee that they have been nominated when we contact them to find out more information. We will not tell them who they have been nominated by unless we know that you are happy for us to do that. You may wish to tell them yourself that you have nominated them.

Other questions

27.Who can I contact if I have questions or comments about this?

You can email us at welfare.project@citizensadvice.org.uk.