Record numbers seek advice on benefit and debt issues
PUBLISHED: 13:35 23 April 2014 | UPDATED: 09:10 25 April 2014
Barnstaple Citizens Advice moving to bigger premises to cope with demand for service.
THE Citizens Advice Bureau in Barnstaple is moving to bigger premises to cope with an increased demand for its services.
Recent changes to the benefits system have prompted a surge in referrals to CABs across North Devon – but queues outside the door of the Belle Meadow branch have become commonplace.
The charity, which issues free advice on a range of issues such as benefit and tax credits, debt and housing problems, is moving from the bus station site to bigger premises in the Bridge Buildings on Barnstaple Square.
Chief executive Steve Davis said the new site would become the headquarters for Torridge, North, Mid and West Devon Citizens Advice Bureau.
“Figures show that our service is needed now more than ever and the expansion of our organisation is an exciting and worthwhile development,” he told the Gazette.
“The new premises are in a great location and will enable us to offer more face-to-face advice and expand our Adviceline telephone service.”
In the last quarter, local branches saw nearly 3,500 people about 7,400 different issues.
The main problems dealt with included benefit applications (42 per cent), debt (24 per cent) and housing (seven per cent).
By far the most common benefit issue was employment and support allowance (ESA), followed by housing benefit and working and child tax credits.
The main debt issue involved credit cards, followed by council tax payments, and unsecured personal loans.
The charity also has local branches in Bideford, Holsworthy and Ilfracombe, as well as outreach services in Torrington and South Molton.