More than 16,000 people sought advice from Citizens Advice in Adur and Worthing last year, latest figures show.
More than 10,000 residents in Adur and 6,500 residents in Worthing have benefited from free, independent and confidential advice and information in the financial year to March 2018.
The most common advice sought by residents in the local area related to Universal Credit, benefits and tax credits, employment, housing, relationships and family. As many as 31% of Adur residents and 47% of Worthing residents who accessed the service had a long-term health condition.
Citizens Advice is a national charity with local, independent offices across the country. In Adur and Worthing, the local service is known as ‘Citizens Advice in West Sussex – North, South and East’, and operates from the Shoreham Centre, Lancing Library and Worthing Town Hall.
Adur & Worthing Councils make an annual funding contribution of £163,653 towards the service, while West Sussex County Council contributes £350,000 across the county. The total spend on the service by local authorities across West Sussex is £1,049,577 which includes contributions from the remaining district and borough councils.
A report to Adur & Worthing Councils’ Joint Strategic Committee, to be heard tomorrow (Tuesday 8th January), recommends that the Councils continue to support the service for a further two years from April 2019 until March 2022. This is subject to continued funding from West Sussex County Council.
The report also highlights some of the challenges facing the service, including having to find and retain 80% of its workforce through volunteers and raising awareness of the different ways residents can access the service online via email and web-chat.
Councillor David Simmons, Adur District Council’s Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing, said: “Trained volunteers are the life blood of Citizens Advice, and when considering the numbers of people who continue to access the services they provide, we are constantly reminded of the essential nature of the wide-ranging advice and support they deliver to people at times of need. We will continue to do our best to support the future of this valued organisation.”
Councillor Val Turner, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing, said: “Citizens Advice’s research shows that four in ten of the British population contact the organisation at some point during their lives. We now hope to raise more awareness locally of the different ways in which residents can access advice from this invaluable service.”
Julie Martin, CEO of Citizens Advice in West Sussex – North, South and East, said: “Citizens Advice has been helping people for 79 years, giving advice on everything from benefits and employment, including debt management and family matters. We always consider how we can best reach and support those residents who need the service the most using all of the available advice channels, as well as through partnership locations, including GP surgeries. We are keen to ensure we take local needs and views into account in all our future planning”.
There are a number of ways that residents can contact the local branch of Citizens Advice: in person (at the two offices in Worthing and Shoreham), by telephone 0344 477 1171, email, letter or online via web-chat. More details can be found on their website: https://www.advicewestsussex.org.uk/