Citizens Advice’s agm has heard that it has helped over 92,000 people in the last year with over 321,000 issues including social security benefits, tax credits, money advice and debt, employment, housing, health, consumer and more.
The charity continues to experience pressure of demand for its services given the impact of the recession.
Benefit queries continue to the single largest area of work accounting of over 56% of total issues dealt with by advisers and demonstrates the complex nature of the work undertaken by the organisation. The charity has also seen an increase of 7% in its money advice work.
Derek Alcorn, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice said: “Our message to the Government is that we are here to help.”
“The need for the services offered by CAB has never been greater. The forthcoming spending review which will undoubtedly contract public services together with announcements about welfare reform will mean that more and more people will need a trusted third party like CAB.
“CAB provides an essential interface between the public and public services. With 32 main offices throughout Northern Ireland and a modern IT infrastructure we are in a unique position to help people through these changing times.”
The charity has highlighted a decision by Department of Social Development Minister Alex Attwood to pay “extra statutory payments” to people who don’t get help with their housing costs because they get both the income-related element and the contributory element of Employment and Support Allowance at the same rate.
Citizens Advice understands that regulations will be introduced in April 2011 to rectify this situation so that housing costs may be awarded to those currently excluded, but concern remained that between now and April 2011 people would lose their homes.