Funding shortfall hits Wealden Citizens Advice

Wealden Citizens Advice has made three people redundant and reduced the hours of four members of staff because of a shortfall in funding.citizens-advice-nov-2017

The organisation is also considering relocating its Uckfield office to reduce costs.

A report going to Uckfield Town Council next week says Wealden Citizens Advice has lost more than £40,000 in health and energy sector funding.

In addition financial support towards specialist money advice appointments has ended and this has to be funded from within the core service requiring savings elsewhere.

The report to the town council says the way services are offered will have to be organised differently to create the capacity for managers to absorb functions previously covered by others.

The reduced funding comes at a time when the Uckfield office – which is lucky to be supported by 30 volunteers and nine volunteer trustees – is helping an increasing number of people.

It helped 449 clients in the first quarter of 18/19, around six per cent more than in the same period in 2017/18.

Two in five clients had a disability/long term health condition and one in four were 60 or over.

The five main areas of advice given were as follows:

  • Welfare benefits 32%
  • Debt 17%
  • Employment 11%
  • Relationships and family 8%
  • Housing 7%.

The Uckfield team secured £196,797 in improved financial outcomes for its clients in this quarter. This could be anything from an increase in benefits, compensation, a refund, debt write-off, successful appeal or challenge.

The team gained £116,170 in additional income (for example benefits/tax credits) for clients in the period, and with the support of a specialist money adviser, helped clients write off nearly £80,000 in debts.

The team also helped 12 people who were homeless or threatened with homelessness.

The objectives of Wealden Citizens Advice as a whole are to:

  • Maximise the accessibility of service to Wealden residents given reduced resources
  • Maintain capacity to offer in-depth face-to-face advice to the most vulnerable residents in the district
  • Create more flexibility, to better organise work to fit the skills and availability of people
  • Create the equivalent of a day a week manager capacity when they are not trying to manage all advice channels simultaneously. (Managers have to fit in appraisals, case checking and management tasks in and around supervising advice sessions.)

It aims to:

  • Remain open to all
  • Have a service available to clients in Wealden five days a week
  • Maintain the number of full advice appointments offered now
  • Continue to operate outreach services in Heathfield Polegate and Willingdon
  • Remain committed to the target of helping at least 4,000 people a year as set out in a service level agreement with Wealden District Council.

Citizens Advice is consulting on its proposals, include with local councils.

See also:

Uckfield Carnival to pay tribute to the fallen of World War 1

Peter Oliver celebrates first birthday in Uckfield

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