Wealden Citizens Advice appeals for increased funding

Wealden Citizens Advice which covers Uckfield, Crowborough, and Hailsham, is appealing for increased funding from the district council as demand for its services rises.Citizens Advice Bureau

The number of people seeking their help is expected to continue going up because of changes to the welfare system, such as universal credit.

A report to Wealden Council’s cabinet which meets tomorrow, Wednesday, March 14, says: “In areas where universal credit has been introduced, CAB referrals and use of food banks has increased significantly.”

Universal credit is expected to be introduced in Uckfield this year.

Citizens Advice has requested £180,000 a year from the council for the next two years, an increase of £30,000 a year.

Councillors are recommended to give them £165,000 a year.

The council report says bureau funding has fallen by 17% even though it has been “very proactive” in applying for external funding.

This is put down to national issues with reduced funding, and increased competition for funding pots.

The CAB provides key services on behalf of the council including advice about welfare benefits, debt, housing, unemployment, homelessness prevention, the Warm in Wealden campaign, relationship problems and signposting.

During 2016/17, 4520 residents presented 17,884 issues to the three bureau in the district – Uckfield, Crowborough and Hailsham.

Its efforts gained £5m in financial outcomes for clients, with £3.4 million of additional income, and £1.6 million of debt written off.

Volunteers, 107 of them, each give up at least one day a week, and during the year committed more than £515,000 worth of voluntary hours.

The CAB calculates that for every £1 invested, there is a return of £46.53.

In the last year the organisation has also helped more than 300 people at risk of losing their home.

The report says: “Welfare benefits, tax credits and debt continue to account
for well over half of all queries.

“Many come from vulnerable residents seeking assistance for severe financial problems.

“It is estimated that every £1 invested in the service saves the taxpayer £3.25
by helping to prevent evictions and homelessness; helping to maintain people in work rather than relying on benefits; and through improving people’s health and well-being.”

Councillors are due to make a decision about the level of the grant when they meet tomorrow.

See also:

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