Services and projects
We offer specialist services that add to our general advice. If you get advice through our general service and could benefit from being referred to one of these, your adviser will let you know. For some services you can also self-refer.
- Health and disability team – our specialist volunteers tackle complex benefits problems
- Healthwatch – advice and advocacy for people using health or social care services
- MS advocacy project – for anyone who has or is affected by multiple sclerosis
- Pension Wise – guidance for anyone over 50 with a defined contribution pension
- Quids for Kids – advice for families with children who have additional needs or a disability, young homeless people, care leavers and foster carers
Health and disability team
Most of our volunteer advisers are generalists, who can help with enquiries in any area where we offer advice, but we also have a special team that works together on complex benefits enquiries. This is so we can provide a dedicated service for clients with disabilities and long-term health conditions, who have been particularly affected by changes to welfare benefits in the last few years. This team handles a lot of our benefit appeals and has an excellent track record of overturning poor decisions and securing an income for people the benefits system is intended to help.
Like most of our special projects, this one is accessed via our general advice service. All of our advisers can help with benefits, and we’ll always put you in touch with whoever is best placed to help you given our available resources.
Read reports on work we have done with professionals who write medical evidence reports for people claiming PIP and ESA.
We work in partnership with Healthwatch Devon to give patients and social care service users a voice. If you’d like to say something, good or bad, about your experience of health services or social care, our Healthwatch champion can help. Please contact us to be put in touch with your local champion, who can provide advice and support on:
- What to expect from health and care services
- Who should be paying for what
- Complaints and support with making complaints
- Signposting to local services
There’s a Healthwatch champion for each district of Devon, based in their local Citizens Advice. Each works one day a week, so please allow a couple of weeks to be contacted.
MS advocacy project
Citizens Advice Teignbridge has an expert caseworker who can provide advice and advocacy to people affected by multiple sclerosis. This includes anyone who has MS themselves, carers for people with MS, or those who have someone with MS in their household. We can help with all sorts of enquiries including specialist help with welfare benefits, health and social care issues, employment, housing and debt. Home visits may be possible.
New clients usually come to us via an MS nurse or other health professional, but you can self-refer, or be referred by another agency, via our online referral form. You can also contact the project worker Sally by emailing email@example.com or telephoning 01626 326170.
We work in partnership with the South Devon branch of the MS Society, and the project is made possible by the Big Lottery Fund. In 2015 an external impact report for the MS project (PDF), using an academically validated social return on investment methodology, concluded that every £1 put into the project yielded a value of more than £22, whether in direct financial gains for our clients or through savings to the public purse, e.g. reduced pressure on the NHS.
Do you have a defined contribution pension? Our Pension Wise service can help you understand your options.
Since 2015 people with certain types of pension have been able to access their money at age 55. There are several things you do with your pension pot, and what’s best for you will depend on your retirement plans, your attitude to risk and more.
We offer free face-to-face appointments in Newton Abbot, Teignmouth and Dawlish, where you can sit down with a Pension Wise guidance specialist who will:
- explain your pension options
- explain the tax issues
- discuss which options might be suitable for you
- give you tips on what you can do next
Afterwards you’ll get a written summary of what you talked about.
Our guidance specialists are impartial. They don’t recommend any products or companies and won’t tell you how to invest your money.
In most cases you’ll need to be aged at least 50 to make an appointment, though exceptions are made for circumstances like terminal illness, an inherited pension pot, or professions with a short working life. The national Citizens Advice website has a useful guide to help you get ready for your Pension Wise appointment.
Quids for Kids
Through the Quids for Kids project, we provide specialist advice to:
- families of children (or young people up to the age of 21) with additional needs, a long-term illness or disability
- care leavers
- young homeless people
- foster parents
- people looking after a child with a special guardianship order
We can help by assessing whether you are able to claim benefits, and we can help you challenge decisions if you think you have not been treated fairly. We know the benefits system can be complicated and confusing and this can put busy families off claiming.
All you need to do is complete our enquiry form, and one of our specialist advisers will contact you.
Funded by Devon County Council, the Quids for Kids service has already helped hundreds of families with children who have special needs. As a result millions of pounds of unclaimed benefits are now helping families manage the extra financial demands they experience. Across Devon, in the 12 months to 31 March 2016 we achieved total financial gains for our clients of over £2,000,000. However, we know that many families in the circumstances we work with still do not claim the benefits they are entitled to. If this is you, perhaps we can help.