Demand for citizens advice soars

The Citizens Advice Service in Dumfries and Galloway is looking to recruit more staff and volunteers to help cope with what they call a 'growing welfare crisis.'

Advertisement

Welfare reforms introduced to 'simplify benefits system'

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said the welfare reforms were designed to simplify the benefits system and make it easier for people to get back into work where possible.

The "Bedroom Tax" is designed to bring the social housing sector in line with the private system.

The Government believes it is unfair that some people are living in homes that are too big for them whilst other families are having to live in overcrowded properties.

It says there is currently a long waiting list for social housing.

Citizens Advice Service hoping to extend opening hours

The Citizens Advice Service in Dumfries and Galloway is now hoping to extend its opening hours to evenings and Saturdays at its four bureaux in Dumfries, Stranraer, Castle Douglas and Annan.

It says 63% of those affected by the welfare changes are in work and find it difficult to get to the offices between 9am and 5pm.

Dumfries and Galloway Council has given £215,000 to the Service to fund six extra staff.

One will be a volunteer development post, and that person will try to find more volunteers to boost the 70 that currently help the service.

Increase in people seeking help from Citizens Advice Service

The Citizens Advice Service in Dumfries and Galloway says it has seen a sharp rise in the number of people needing its help.

It believes it is due to people's fears about the welfare reforms being introduced by the government.

The Service says those changes have already "thrown thousands of vulnerable people into poverty" and it is struggling to cope with the increase in demand for its advice.

There is particular concern about the so-called "Bedroom Tax" which will come into force in April.

People in social rented housing, who are of working age, will lose an average of £14 peer week if they have a bedroom that is not being used.

Citizens Advice Service recruitment drive in Dumfries and Galloway

The Citizens Advice Service in Dumfries and Galloway is looking to recruit more staff and volunteers to help cope with what they call a 'growing welfare crisis.'

The service say they have been under growing pressure from increasing workloads, due to the amount of people who are now living in poverty.

"The Citizens Advice Service has always been a vital source of advice for people who are on the lowest incomes and need help. But the scale of these current welfare cuts is shocking and is having a massive impact on people locally.

"So we are seeing an increase in the numbers of people who need our help and the worrying thing is that as the cuts continue this trend is set to get even worse.

"We've been stretched to capacity for the last few years but it's no longer possible to meet these levels of demand on our current resources."

– Sue Irving, Chief Executive, Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service

Advertisement