Details are coming through about the revised Money & Pensions Service contracts from 1st April 2022 to 31st January 2023, and it’s not good.
News from our members in local Citizens Advice offices says targets have been set at 277 clients per FTE. This is only 2% lower than last year, despite all the evidence that the previous annual targets were impossible. The debt advice peer assessment (DAPA) quality regime is thankfully gone, but so far there is no sign of concessions on the waste-of-time 30+ page confirmation of advice (COA) letters.
We are awaiting updates on the situation from workers in other MaPS-funded agencies.
Incredibly, we’re hearing that some local Citizens Advice are insisting advisers must take on 10 new cases per week. But meeting the 277 target, including holidays, would mean around 8 a week, so why 10? And advisers are being told they need to make up missed numbers if they’re off sick – which a lot of them will be with the stress this is going to cause.
IMA research last October found MaPS-funded local CA advisers needed 5h 15m per new client for advice, notes and COA letter. Multiplied by 10 cases, that’s over 52 hours a week, and that’s before any ongoing casework. The same IMA research showed MaPS-funded debt advisers were already working an average of 6 hours a week unpaid overtime.
This target is impossible, especially as we are faced with increasingly complex cases and more clients who simply cannot afford the basics of life.
This puts advisers in a position of:
a) rushing through cases to hit targets and providing a poor service,
b) working 15+ hours a week for free to keep up with workloads, or
c) sticking to what they can manage in their contracted hours and getting penalised by employers.
This completely flies in the face of HSE guidance on workplace stress: “the organisation provides employees with adequate and achievable demands in relation to the agreed hours of work”. We remind these employers that they have a legal duty to protect employees from stress, do a risk assessment and act on it.
We’ve lost so many good debt advisers since this recommissioning mess started. Research in December found that 29% of debt advisers had left, or were in the process of leaving, their jobs. More are now talking about leaving after the announcement of these targets, just at a point when skilled advisers will be needed more than ever.
We’re not working for free to keep up with unachievable targets, and if employers and lead organisations persist with this, our members will respond appropriately.