Connecting with other charities

Our development manager has been spearheading one of the charities’ key projects, which aims to improve the pathways to our services and increase voluntary sector referrals from impoverished areas of the UK.

The project arose because we wanted to make sure that people with personal tax problems speaking to other organisations had a clear and efficient path to our services. Key to this is strengthening our relationships with other organisations in the voluntary and community sector and targeting those geographic areas where data suggests there is likely to be demand for our services.  

In August 2022 TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People began a joint project to increase the number of referrals from the voluntary and community sector (VCS). We knew that other charities, community organisations, local authorities, social prescribers, faith-based organisations, housing associations, pension providers, and debt advisory bodies were speaking to people with tax problems, but it wasn’t always obvious that they knew where they could refer people for help.

We also need to make sure that we keep our beneficiaries’ needs and best interests at the heart of our work. So, we looked at how we communicate about our services, staff, and volunteers. Also, how staff and volunteers assist with tax issues in a compassionate manner and with an awareness of each beneficiary’s specific needs.

We undertook outreach work with VCS organisations all across the UK— including homelessness charities in London, age-friendly organisations in Derry, Citizen’s Advice Bureau advisers in Exeter, and social prescribers in Birmingham. Over the past year, we delivered twenty presentations on TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People to more than 400 advisers, sign posters, and guiders all across the UK.

An important part of this project was to demonstrate a ‘proof of concept’ for our strategy. We did this by targeting outreach over a three-month period in one particular area—Hackney in East London. Following presentations to Hackney Council and its Poverty Reduction Working Group, Age UK East London, East End CAB and others, we saw a 33% increase in beneficiaries in Hackney over this period as compared to the same period in previous years.

In addition to the increase in referrals, our outreach gave our VCS partners the opportunity to tell us about the challenges that they and their beneficiaries are facing in getting the help they need. It has provided us with vital information on the barriers people face when they are asking for help from HMRC and the DWP.

Following the successful proof of concept, the next element of this project was to identify which parts of the UK we needed to prioritise for our outreach. We looked at key metrics including cost of living, average employment and self-employment income, and importantly the rate of contact. By measuring this in local authorities all across the UK we found those areas which had both a high percentage of people who fit our target financial demographics whilst also having a low rate of contact. By prioritising these areas, we know that we are being as efficient as possible.

Moving now into our second year of this project we have a more robust VCS network and we have created clearer and more efficient referral pathways with them. We are better at communicating our impact to stakeholders and have improved our understanding of our beneficiaries and what obstacles they experience in getting the help that they need. Though the work is not yet complete, we are now significantly closer to our ultimate goal of providing tax help to all who need it.

Geoffrey Sautner, Development manager

This entry was posted on Monday, April 8th, 2024 at 11:58 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.