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Local Citizens Advice offices in Somerset County call for rethink on funding cuts

Citizens Advice in Somerset are calling on Somerset County Council not to go ahead with a proposal to cut all of the funding it provides to them.

The 5 Citizens Advice in Somerset are all independent charities, based in Sedgemoor, Mendip, South Somerset, West Somerset and Taunton.

Funding from the Council is used to run the charities’ day-to-day advice services.

The charities are warning that, should the cuts go ahead, they would need to look at significantly reducing the services currently offered. They estimate that almost 6,000 people facing evictions, bailiffs actions, unfair dismissals and benefit delays will no longer have access to their advice and support services as a result. This number includes some of the most vulnerable people in our society, and there are now few other services for them to turn to.

Last year they helped almost 23,000 people with a range of issues, including benefits, debt and housing. Using a Treasury model, the 5 charities calculate that the overall public value of their service is almost £30m.

The County Council will make a final decision on funding for Citizens Advice in Somerset on Wednesday 12 September. You can support the charities by signing a petition by clicking this link Citizens Advice in Somerset or complete online on your local Citizens Advice website or www.westsomersetadvice.org.uk

Lyn Goodfellow, Chair of Citizens Advice Sedgemoor (on behalf of 5 Citizens Advice), said:

“We understand Somerset County Council are in a difficult position and they need to make some tough decisions. We appreciate the support they’ve shown us over the years, which has allowed us to help tens of thousands of people.

“However, we would urge them to rethink their proposal to cut funding. We offer a vital service that’s also value for money as we stop people’s problems from getting worse, which eases demand on other local providers.

“Our immediate priority is to work together to minimise disruption to the service should these proposed cuts take place, particularly for vulnerable clients. For now though, we remain open for the people of Somerset County.”

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Generalist Advice
Available 5 days per week.

We provide generalist advice in all issues including welfare benefits, debt, housing, employment, consumer, relationship issues, immigration, education and tax.

We provide specialist advice in welfare benefits, mental health, housing/eviciton/repossession and also offer asistance with wessex water applications.

Help with online Universal Credit claims – Please note that this service is provided through the General Advice Service.

Mental Health Specialist
Generalist advice and assistance to a specific client group, specialising in welfare benefit casework through to representative at Social Security Tribunals; Mental Health related issues through outreach as well as Bureau and some home visits where necessary. Referrals/signpost to other specialists where appropriate.

Housing Advice inc Representation at Court
Advice and assistance prior to hearing and representation at Court.

Welfare Benefits Specialists
Full benefit checks, application assistance and Benefit Tribunal Representation.

Debt & Money Advice
Money Advice Team assistance:
priority and non-priority debt advice.  Assistance with Wessex Water Scheme applications, Debt Relief Orders and Bankruptcies.

Legal Advice from Duty Solicitor
15 minutes free legal advice can be sought from Solicitors who operate twice monthly and by appointment only.

Employment Specialist
Employment, redundancy and tribunal advice and assistance.

Relationship Specialist
Housing, benefits, children advice and assistance.

Useful Links
Adviceguide
Gov.UK
Somerset County Council
Sedgemoor District Council
HMRC
ACAS
Money Advice Service
PayPlan
Shelter
Law Society 
Childline
Somerset Money Matters
Somerset Money Matters – Staff

 

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