Help protect vital local Citizens Advice Services across Staffordshire
This petition had 4,225 supporters
Staffordshire’s Citizens Advice offices are at risk of losing one of their most important sources of funding from Staffordshire County Council.
This funding allows us to support the most vulnerable people in society, including those with severe mental health problems. It also puts at risk our telephone service, Staffordshire Adviceline, which has become, by far, the primary method of contact for many Staffordshire residents wishing to contact the Citizens Advice service. The contract offers incredible value for money, and 55,030 residents accessed the service over the last two years.
We need 5,000 signatures by 21 November to give us the best chance possible to protect this vital service.
The Debt, Benefit and Consumer Advice Service currently provides a range of advice services across Staffordshire:
- A county wide telephone service
- A face to face service in every district across the county
- A specialist older peoples service
- A specialist service for people with enduring mental health problems
This service provides additional access to support and enhance advice services which are funded at varying levels from local district councils. Public sector cuts have already severely impacted on local district advice services with services already being reduced.
There has been a county advice service since 1986.
Staffordshire County Council has funded advice services across Staffordshire for 30 years.
A deficit in the Better Care Fund has led Staffordshire County Council to make a decision to end this partnership and it is anticipated that access to a whole range of advice services will cease in March 2017.
The loss of the County funding will not only seriously impact on the advice services available across the county and the benefits it delivers, but it will also seriously impact on the advice sector across Staffordshire with the loss of jobs, skills and experience, loss of services, loss of volunteer opportunities and in some districts, see the closure of local Citizens Advice offices.
The telephone service helped 38,720 residents and 11,628 people were supported with ongoing advice and casework.
- It has helped people gain £14.7 million pounds of additional income, thereby making a substantial contribution to the local economy
- It has helped people deal with £11.7 million pounds of debt
Citizens Advice services provide access to information, advice and support to help people deal with the issues and problems that affect them. Helping people to help themselves it also provides the only real safety net for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our communities. It offers free, confidential, impartial and independent services, embedded into local communities and trusted across all sectors.
The County Council’s own impact report identifies that;
- “people with a disability, particularly mental health needs and rural communities are likely to be adversely affected”
- “The proposal is likely to have an impact on workload for social work staff/financial officers in dealing with debt and benefit issues which are affecting service users’ health and care needs or relationships with carers”
- “There are a number of alternative debt and benefit services (nationally) but these may not be suited to those with complex or specialist needs and who may not be confident with web/telephony based services”
- “These services are national and generic and to date no directly comparable alternative local provision has been identified”
Whilst the difficult financial challenge that the council is facing is recognised; to end this service will be a false economy, Staffordshire will lose far more in financial terms than the service costs and the lives of many people struggling to get by (whether working or not) will be immeasurably more difficult without access to advice.
Please support our campaign to persuade Staffordshire County Council to reconsider and help us protect the local Citizens Advice services across Staffordshire.
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Citizens Advice Staffordshire needs your help with “Staffordshire County Council: Help protect local Citizens Advice Services across Staffordshire”. Join Citizens Advice Staffordshire and 4,224 supporters today.