More people seek Citizen’s Advice help

Nearly 5,000 people were helped by Wealden Citizen’s Advice in the last year.

Clients are mainly on low incomes, although the service is open to all.

One in three people wanted help with welfare benefits or tax credits and 1 in 5 sought assistance relating to debt, financial services or budgeting.

The figures were given to Uckfield Town Council in a report from the chief executive of Wealden Citizen’s Advice, Kate Davidson.

The council makes an annual grant to Wealden CAB and in the coming financial year it will amount to £18,836.

The report said the 4,907 people seeking assistance raised 18,955 issues – a ten per cent increase on the previous year.

The other main issues were employment 8.5%, housing 7.5% and relationship and family matters 7%.

One-third of the clients who sought help last year had a disability or long-term health condition, and 28% were aged 60 or over.

Ms Davidson’s report said: “Over recent years we are increasingly finding that we are providing ongoing support to a number of highly vulnerable Wealden residents who have limited support at home.”

Citizens Advice

Uckfield Citizens Advice offices based at the town council premises next to the Luxford car park

She said the efforts of “our fabulous committed volunteers and staff” had brought some amazing results for clients – about £2.75million in improved financial outcomes. 

This included more than £1.5million in additional income, such as welfare benefits, tax credits and compensation.

More than £1million in debt was 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.

Homeless people

“Much of this additional income is likely to be spent locally. 

“The team also helped more than 200 people who were homeless or at risk of losing their income,” the report stated.

In an annual customer satisfaction survey, 99% of clients said they were happy or very happy with the service and 4 out of 5 said the help given had made a positive difference.

“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. 

Saves the taxpayer

“It is estimated that every £1 spent on Citizen’s Advice in Wealden saves the taxpayer more than twice that eg: through reduced demand for health and homelessness services,” Ms Davidson said.

The service has a 100-strong dedicated and highly trained volunteer workforce, who give at least a day a week to help their local community and make up of 90% of the team.

Ms Davidson said: “Together they provide services estimated to be worth £516,000 per year. 

High standards

“Our volunteers are supported by a small team of paid staff who provide the support, nationally recognised training and quality assurance we need to keep our standards high.”

The CAB was grateful for the continued support of Wealden District Council and town and parish councils across the district, she said.

How to contact Citizen’s Advice

Wealden Citizens Advice provides advice and information face to face, through telephone Advice (0300 330 9022 or 03444 111 444), and by email at three offices in Crowborough, Hailsham and Uckfield (the Hub, Civic Approach), with weekly face to face outreach on Friday mornings at Heathfield, and on Thursdays at Polegate and Willingdon.

Trusted information is also available at provided by national Citizen’s Advice, and an estimated 19,000 Wealden residents accessed information that way in addition to the number of clients see in local offices.

See also:

Talks on future management of Ridgewood Village Hall

Temple Grove Care Home wins ‘outstanding’ rating

Building work under way to create co-working space in Uckfield

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