Citizens Advice Bath and North East Somerset have been given a new five-year contract by the council – safeguarding the access residents have to free information and advice on debt management, welfare benefits and general financial matters.
Bath & North East Somerset Council has awarded the organisation a contract to deliver confidential advice and support to residents online, over the phone and in person.
As well as information on benefits, debt, discrimination, employment, housing and immigration, the service will be supporting residents with general well-being, including guidance on healthier lifestyle choices and community involvement.
During the five-year contract, staff at Citizens Advice B&NES will work with Bath Jobcentre to support young people to access job opportunities. The organisation is also in discussions with Women Work Lab to extend a successful trial which will provide a work placement for one person per year within their team.
In addition, 15 law students from Bath Spa University will be offered volunteer placements with the organisation every year. They will be working at Bath Law Clinic helping lawyers who are acting pro-bono for clients and will receive training in triage and interview skills, writing legal letters and recording case notes
Citizens Advice B&NES was re-appointed by the council following an open procurement exercise carried out earlier this year. The new contract will cost £1.5m over five years.
Councillor Richard Samuel, deputy leader and cabinet member for Resources, said: “The funding will safeguard the Citizens Advice B&NES service for residents, which is especially important during the ongoing cost of living crisis. It ensures that vulnerable residents can access free and impartial advice from trained and experienced staff and volunteers and allows people to find information about help they can get with essential costs.”
Simon Lawson, CEO of Citizens Advice Bath and North East Somerset, said: “I’m really proud to have secured this new contract to continue our vital work for another five years. We are on the front line of the cost-of-living crisis and our advisers are working flat out to help the residents of Bath & North East Somerset cope with a huge range of advice problems. We are needed now more than ever.”
During the six-month period from April to September this year, Citizens Advice B&NES has helped 3,014 unique clients to deal with 7,863 advice issues; and recorded financial gains on behalf of those clients of £2,618,680.
If you need advice or information, Citizens Advice B&NES has ‘drop-in’ offices in Bath, Keynsham and Midsomer Norton. You can check locations and opening times on the website.
You can also call for free on 0808 278 7897 Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 2.30pm.