The Energy Team at Citizens Advice Northumberland has a variety of roles, working with customers, and we thought it would be beneficial to offer a couple of insights into our work. We’ll begin with our Energy Caseworkers, and Tim has written about a typical day for him.
Being an energy caseworker is a varied role and every day is different. You never know what the day will bring and this makes the role difficult but also exciting. I was told by a retiring colleague who worked for Citizens Advice for years that as a caseworker you had to play the role of detective. I think this really rings true now that I have been in the role for a while.
Our role is to get to the bottom of a case using information provided by our clients and comparing this with information by the energy companies. We like to use facts and have to often disregard what a client and the energy company are telling us in order to get to the bottom of a case and lead the client in the right direction, to understand their options better.
Clients are often confused about what has happened with their accounts, you could say the same for energy companies. Therefore we have to be shrewd and pick out what is important to a case, to ensure we have the full picture. We have to be calm and collected in our role as we are usually dealing with clients at the end of their tethers. They have usually tried to rectify the issues themselves and not managed to get anywhere. We then have to pick up the baton, dealing with energy companies that can be just as frustrating for us to deal with.
In our role we have to have good maths skills as we review bills using our own calculations to ensure they seem correct and to identify any red flags. We also have to have an in-depth knowledge of debt as many of the clients that present to us have debt in other areas. We liaise with our colleagues on Money Advice to discuss cases that we might share, and we all hope to reach the right outcome for clients with every case.
We are not magicians and this can often be frustrating for clients as they believe we can just wave a magic wand, wiping out all their energy debt and helping them pay for their ongoing usage. We do however often work magic in the eyes of some clients due to the savings ake, and financial gains we help them achieve due to challenging their billing.
A good example of this is a client who came to us for help with an emergency fuel voucher. This seemed like a simple case, however as a caseworker you are tasked with digging a little more. We asked the energy company for 12 months’ worth of their energy statements. Upon reviewing these it appeared that the client had never received the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme payments towards their energy over winter. This was challenged with the energy supplier and they have added this to the client’s account.
We complete in-depth assessments of a client’s energy usage and home situation in order to offer holistic and tailored energy advice to match their needs. A further recent example of this involved querying high energy use disputed by the client. It was identified that they had two teenage boys that used computers for homework. When questioned further it became apparent that these computers were gaming computers and were being run for long periods of time during the day. This could have been as much as £1.80 a day for both children to be on the computers for 10 hours. Clients often don’t realise how quickly usage can add up and it is our job to break it down for them, and put it in simple terms they can understand.
If you wish to discuss your client’s issues with the Energy Team, or refer a client to us for support, please use Northumberland Frontline, call us on 01670 33 97 49 or e-mail email@example.com