Triaging overflow: A case study of the ‘Gateway Assessment’ in the UK Citizens Advice Service

Samuel Kirwan*, Morag McDermont, Sue Evans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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This article explores the impact upon the work of the UK Citizens Advice Service of the ‘Gateway Assessment’ system, a ‘triage device’ rolled out across Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales from 2007 onwards designed to deal with an overflow of client needs. The paper addresses the history of ‘triage’ as a method for dealing with an excess of problematic bodies, before describing how a demonstrable need for systems to organise an overflow of advice needs within Citizens Advice Bureaux led to the emergence of triage as a ‘technique of government’ that would re-shape the advice process. Yet, as an attempt to regulate ‘from above’ the front-line of the Citizens Advice service, it met forms of resistance as existing practices of advice work and local situations fell into conflict with the inflexibility of the Gateway Assessment Process. The paper describes how implementation of the Gateway Assessment involved acts of compliance and acts of resistance, followed by a jostling between actors and a reshaping of the spaces of regulation, resulting in the ‘Gateway Plus’ model in which triage can slip into advice where necessary. We argue that this process displayed a conflict between a framing of overflow as an excess of countable bodies and one of problem-bearing subjects, the latter being derived from the relational and voluntary practice of advice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-754
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Management Journal
Issue number6
Early online date29 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Triage
  • Overflow
  • Regulation
  • Governmentality
  • Advice


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