And the charity’s volunteers have dealt with nearly 5,700 issues in the town, mostly relating to financial circumstances.
Those have included help with welfare benefits, tax credits or debt. Other queries have related to housing and homelessness, employment and relationship and family matters.
Across Wealden the Citizens Advice Bureau helped 4587 people with 17,884 issues.
The bureau has presented a report of its work during the financial year of 2016/17 to Uckfield Town Council, which contributes £18,000 towards its running costs.
The bureau says: ”Through the efforts of fantastic volunteers and dedicated staff we have achieved some amazing results for our clients, securing around £5m in improved financial outcomes for them.
“This included over £3.4m in additional income such as welfare benefits, tax credits and compensation and over £1.6m in debt written off for clients who had frequently faced a significant change in their circumstances, such as accident, ill-health, loss of employment or family breakdown.”
The bureau has maintained an expert money advice service across the district, thanks to the support of Wealden District Council and the High Weald Lewes Havens Clinical Commissioning Group.
This project has enabled the bureau to get a clearer idea of the health impact of financial difficulty and how resolving a client’s financial difficulties can improve their health.
The bureau records that of 111 people helped with £1.2m of debt during the six month project:
- Four in five had long-term health condition/disability Half had mental health issues
- Two out of three said illness/accident had contributed to their financial difficulties
- Half said their financial difficulties had made their lives nearly unbearable
- Two in three were in serious difficulty and behind on many bills including essentials (housing, water, and fuel).
- Three in four rated their health as poor or very poor, with over 600 GP visits in six months
After advice nine in ten clients said they felt more in control of their finances, less stressed/anxious, more able to manage their finances with greater peace of mind for the future.
The bureau said: “The work we do therefore has greater benefits than can be seen in the practical outcomes achieved.
“It is estimated that two in three clients feel stressed and anxious about their problem before they come to see us – resolving the practical issue can therefore contribute to reduced anxiety and improved well-being.
“Helping someone stay in their home, pay their bills and feel better can also reduce the costs to local services, especially health and local council services – our volunteers alone provide services estimated to be worth over £0.5m per year.
“It is estimated that every £1 spent on Citizens Advice in Wealden saves the taxpayer more than twice that.”