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Two new jobs at D&G Citizens Advice Service

Two new jobs have been created at the Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service (CAS).

The announcement comes following the news that over £500,000 is to be given by the Scottish Government to tackle food poverty.

The two part-time advisers will be based in Dumfries and Stranraer.

Their main role will be to work both with emergency food providers and people accessing food aid.

They will deliver advice sessions in food banks and other emergency food locations and will be able to look holistically at people’s situations to try to resolve root causes of the problems they face.

“We are delighted that we are going to be able to provide this extra support for people in need across Dumfries and Galloway. This is a new and growing problem and we have seen a huge increase in the numbers of people we refer to food banks over the last year.

“Of course, we’d rather not be in the situation where it is necessary to provide advice to people who are struggling to put a meal on the table, but that is the reality for so many in our region. However, there are lots of things we at D&G CAS can help with if you are struggling to afford meals, from checking you are getting the benefits to which you are entitled, to negotiating debt on your behalf. So this funding will mean we can target those most in need and we thank the Scottish Government for their support.”

– Sue Irving, Chief Executive of D&G CAS

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Major funding boost for Citizens Advice Service

The Citizens Advice Service in Dumfries and Galloway has won a grant of £215,939.

The funding, awarded by the Big Lottery, is aimed at helping local people cope with the impact of the government's welfare cuts.

The money will be put towards developing more expert advice across the region over the next 18 months.

AnnaN, Upper Nithsdale, North West Dumfries and Stranraer West are the four areas that have been identified as having particularly bad problems.

These areas will be offered a home-visiting advice service to vulnerable clients, and four advisers will be employed to work with local support agencies to prevent people falling below the poverty line.

"The biggest priority of our service over the last few years has been to help those people who have been hurt economically by the double whammy of the recession and welfare cuts.

"The fact we have been awarded this money is a sign of how bleak things are for many people locally, and also of how D&G CAS has demonstrated that we are able to help them.

"The government says the most vulnerable people are being protected from their welfare changes, but that's not the reality that we see.

"There are many families who are struggling every day and facing real poverty."

– Sue Irving, Chief Executive, D&G CAS

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.

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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