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Nwicker60
24-Aug-12, 09:10
Help pledge as demand for debt and welfare advice grows

HIGHLAND councillors have agreed to continue to work with the Highland network of eight Citizens Advice Bureaux to provide advice and information services to local residents as the demand for debt and welfare benefits advice grows.
The council provides annual funding of £1.1 million to the CAB network, who complement the work of the councilís in-house Money Advice and Customer Income Maximisation teams in providing key services to the public.
At a meeting of the councilís Finance, Housing and Resources Committee, this week, members considered a report outlining the continuing demand for these services across Highland and agreed to continue working with the CAB network for the next three years.
Through the councilís contracts with the CAB network, 43,606 customer contacts were made during 2011/12. For money advice, the 860 cases dealt with presented a total debt of more than £15 million. The councilís in-house money advice service has supported more customers than in the previous year and has seen an increase in the complexity of cases. In addition, there has been a 50% increase in the number of contacts seeking assistance with benefits advice and income maximisation.
Committee Chair, Councillor Dave Fallows said: ďThe council is committed to easing poverty and deprivation and advice and information services are a vital tool to address this. We greatly value the services provided by the CABx and our in-house teams, who work together well and provide choice for our customers. They have experienced challenging times recently with first the economic downturn and now the demands placed on their services through Welfare Reform. I am pleased that the Committee have decided to continue the councilís support for these services.Ē