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Citizens Advice celebrates 80 years at annual general meeting

Universal credit is the fastest growing issue being raised at Mid Suffolk Citizens Advice, according to its annual report.

The service is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, with the Mid Suffolk branch cutting a special birthday cake at its annual meeting held on Friday.

Carol Eagles, manager, said: “Universal Credit was our fastest growing issue in 2018/19 and now stands at six per cent of advice issues.

Paul Ekpenyong, Mayor of Stowmarket, Carol Eagles, manager and Ian Rickard, secretary of Mid Suffolk Citizens Advice.
Paul Ekpenyong, Mayor of Stowmarket, Carol Eagles, manager and Ian Rickard, secretary of Mid Suffolk Citizens Advice.

“Universal Credit full service was rolled out to Stowmarket Job Centre in May 2018, three months later than originally scheduled. Towards the end of the financial year we started preparing to deliver a new service to offer end-to-end support to help people make a new Universal Credit claim.”

Ian Rickard, secretary, led the meeting as chairman Michael Wangermann could not make the meeting due to a family illness.

Paul Ekpenyong, Mayor of Stowmarket, also attended and presented long-service awards.

Pauline Smith, Geraldine Hayes, Patrick Roberts, Roger Colethorpe, Sue Rowson, Roger Rehahn and Ellie Robertshaw all received certificates,

Over the last year, 28 per cent of problems Mid Suffolk Citizens Advice dealt with concerned benefits and tax credits, 17 per cent of the problems dealt with were related with debt and eight per cent were to do with relationships and family.

Over the last year the charity has helped 3,372 clients with 9,924 problems from its office in Stowmarket.

Charity volunteers and staff helped clients to gain £1,376,262 with welfare benefit claims, appeals and mandatory reconsiderations.

The money advice team within the branch helped clients to manage £1,275,176 of debt.

John Ramsay, trustee treasurer, said: “We are mainly funded by Mid Suffolk District Council and Suffolk County Council, two organisations with aims in alignment with our own, and Stowmarket Town Council provides us with our premises and a grant to subsidise our rent.”

Citizens Advice has released its manifesto for the next government which says: “This General Election, we’re calling for all political parties to take action on the issues that matter to people’s lives, so that fewer people face the same problems in the future.”

The branch is situated in Milton Road South and is available for drop- ins on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

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