After over a year of developing AskCPAG – our new digital advice service and online tools – when the lockdown began in March and many people started working from home, the platform came into its own. With advisers unable to access shared office books and a fast-changing social security landscape to keep up with, the agile online platform proved very valuable. Kindly funded by The Legal Education Foundation, AskCPAG helps advisers and other frontline staff, including MPs’ caseworkers, to navigate the social security system and find solutions to their clients’ benefit problems. It features several of our publications in digital form, as well as interactive tools that answer questions and produce pro-forma letters – for example to help people challenge a decision. It also offers regular updates, so the changes that came in rapidly after lockdown – such as the increase in universal credit and the job retention scheme – were quickly added to ensure families could be supported with the most up-to-date and helpful information. Allen and Overy Foundation and the TUUT Charitable Trust kindly provided additional funding towards online tools and content.
“Incredibly useful for debt advisers working from home. Thank you CPAG and Money and Pensions Service.”
Advice group on the availability of the Debt Advice Handbook on AskCPAG
AskCPAG complements our other advice work – we offer support on benefits as a second-tier service to frontline advisers via telephone and email. We can do this thanks to grants from the Scottish Government, City Bridge Trust (Universal Credit London project), Comic Relief (Universal Credit national project), Feeding Britain (Pathways out of Poverty project, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund), Gwyneth Forrester Trust (crisis advice project), the TUUT Charitable Trust (Universal Credit project) and others. We also offer advice on challenging decisions on a client’s behalf via the upper tribunal and the judicial review process thanks to support from The Legal Education Foundation and the Access to Justice Foundation. This helps build capacity and expertise within the welfare rights community, helping more families. The Strategic Legal Fund for vulnerable young migrants also gave CPAG two specialist grants to support our work on access to benefits and tax credits for migrants.