More people turning to Citizens Advice as Wyre Council looks set to continue funding

More people are turning to the Citizens Advice Service in Wyre as a result of cost of living rises, a report says.
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This week, Wyre Council’s Cabinet meets to consider the continuation of vital funding support to Citizens Advice Lancashire West for the next four years.

The service has been supported for many years by Wyre and in 2021 funding was approved up until May 2024.

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But that funding comes to an end next month and further support will be needed by the service.

Wyre Council's Cabinet is to consider the continuation of funding for Citizens Advice Lancashire WestWyre Council's Cabinet is to consider the continuation of funding for Citizens Advice Lancashire West
Wyre Council's Cabinet is to consider the continuation of funding for Citizens Advice Lancashire West

Cabinet members will hear from the latest report by the Citizens Advice Lancashire West Task Group, set up by the council three years ago to examine the work of the service.

The report recommends that the Cabinet renews the agreement between the Council and Citizens Advice Lancashire West (CALW) until May 2028 and increases funds from the £30,000 per annum of recent years to £35,000 each year, to match current demands.

More than 16,000 clients helped

Performance information provided by the CALW shows that between April 1 2019 and March 31 2023, they have assessed and assisted 16,883 Wyre clients with 39,244 issues across all enquiry areas.

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The grant funding will contribute towards the CALW core service which includes a five days per week call centre which operates from 9am-5pm. This provides access to advice by telephone, webchat and email.

The funding also supports a general advice service delivered by the digital health centre based at Fleetwood Market, three days a week (Tuesday,Thursday and Friday).

Outreach for general advice and debt is also provided by way of pre-booked appointments. All advisers are AskRe

trained, which allows them to identify clients with domestic abuse issues and refer them to the appropriate support agencies.

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The report states: “Following all the relevant information that was placed before the (task) group, it was clear that the current arrangements between Wyre Council and Citizens Advice Lancashire West (CALW) are effective.

"The group acknowledged that the service was well used by residents and had been experiencing a rise in demand for the service, to the point that they had increased their outreach services. A higher number of residents were able to access services and there was a varied service provision for those who could not travel to the units in Fleetwood Market.”

The group also believed that the level of cash funding did not match what was currently being provided, and that the charity was matching the council’s contribution in order to continue to provide more face-to-face outreach, telephone, video conferencing and web services.

The group agreed that the funding level ought to be increased to reflect this.

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It further recommends that the use of the units at Fleetwood Market be added to formalise the arrangement and that the council and Citizens Advice Lancashire West consider re-starting the trial of the digital kiosks, particularly over Wyre, and for the £8,000 set aside for this in 2021 be released.