Mid Suffolk Citizens Advice warns of greater demand as welfare benefit changes bite
More people will be needing the help of Citizen’s Advice as austerity Britain penalises the most vulnerable warns the volunteer organisation serving Mid Suffolk.
Its annual report which covers the period 2014/15 highlights that the lion’s share of assistance has been to people with benefit and debt queries while the use of the local foodbank service is steadily rising.
Delays in processing the move to Personal Independence Payments from Disability LIving Allowance have continued and the situation will get worse warns benefits specialist Steve Kozak.
In the annual report presented by CAB manager Carol Eagles his work handling benefit appeals has secured clients £62,157 while the BIM project - Benefit Income Maximisation- achieved £629,805 in welfare benefit for people who would otherwise have gone without.
The project, funded by local trusts, helps vulnerable people fill in forms and handle benefit checks.
There has also been a 57 per cent increase in the need for food parcels from Stowmarket Foodbank with 178 parcels issued.
Mr Kosak said: “The bar to qualify for welfare benefits is going up every year. We keep being told that we’ve got a joined up system but the service is only joined up thanks to agencies like ourselves and Age UK. We’re going way over our pay grade to keep peope in their homes and resolve their debt issues. There is no evidence on the ground that there’s a joined up service. We’re patching it up.”
He added there was no evidence of mental health specialists available to help with medical assessments for vulnerable mental health clients. “It’s tough for these people.”
The CAB is extending its service to two monthly outreach mornings in Debenham and weekly money advice for council tenants at its Milton Road offices and the Council Offices in Needham Market.