Thu, 31 Oct 2019
CITIZENS Advice West Berkshire helped Newbury residents become more than £276,000 better off over the last financial year.
These savings and gains came from increases in income and benefits, debts being written off and fewer deductions to benefits.
Success stories include a client struggling to live on her universal credit due to so many deductions.
An adviser managed to reduce the payments, giving the client an extra £100 a month.
Another concerned a client was set to be evicted until the bureau stepped in and negotiated payment terms for their debts.
A third client was referred by the Public Protection Partnership (Trading Standards) regarding unsafe building work.
The construction company was successfully prosecuted and the client compensated.
Office manager Fiona Williams said: “The majority is new benefits that we’ve helped the clients claim for. That’s double the figure that we reported last year.
“We’ve improved at getting universal credit and we’ve got better at following up the client.
“A lot of hard work has gone in to getting those benefits.
“We can’t follow up everybody because not everybody wants to speak to us unless they’re in dire need.
“It is still the tip of the iceberg.
“We’re manically busy and it’s getting busier and busier, but we do try to see everyone.”
Citizens Advice saw more than 1,100 residents from Newbury from April 2018 to April 2019.
Newbury mayor Elizabeth O’Keeffe said: “Because of the loss of funding a few years ago, Citizens Advice had to massively downsize and cut the rooms they had – so they can only see as many people as they have rooms or meeting places for.
“The local Citizens Advice has very kept up very much with the changing times and technology and responded well to the changes nationally.”
Citizens Advice West Berkshire is an independent advice charity helping people deal with their problems, such as benefits, debt, employment and housing.
It also issues food vouchers for access to food banks.