Funding will support network of community-based advice charities to respond to increased demand.

Essex County Council has announced a package of support for the county’s Citizens Advice Service. It includes additional funding in response to unprecedented demand for their services. The funding, initially worth £185K, will support the network of community-based advice charities throughout the remainder of the financial year.

Citizens Advice Essex and Essex County Council will work together to identify future potential investment in response to increased demands upon the service.

The network of local Citizens Advice offices in Essex, which works together as a consortium for pan-county activities, will use the funding to increase capacity and develop new services in response to record numbers of enquiries relating to rising energy prices, household debt and problems with benefits.

The new funding supplements funding received by local offices from their borough or district councils as well as national sources.

 

The centrepiece of the network’s response is a new “out of hours” adviceline available on 0808 250 5724 in the evenings and weekends, giving people who may otherwise struggle to obtain advice easier access to the service.

Citizens’ Advice Essex consortium’s Director, Martin Lord, said: “Cost-of-living pressures have led to a big increase in people seeking advice. We’ve seen record numbers in crisis who have run out of electricity on their prepayment meter or need a referral to a food bank. We also know that many people seeking help have never used our services before. Our new out-of-hours adviceline will complement existing local services and provide a vital lifeline for those who might otherwise struggle to access us. So, our message is simple: if you are struggling to cope with your finances, contact us for advice.”

Other service enhancements resulting from the new funding will include additional capacity for the network’s existing generalist advice services, alongside new funding for specialist debt advice provision to support people with serious debt problems.

 

Councillor Louise McKinlay, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council said: “Citizens’ Advice offers a fantastic service offering free and impartial advice across a wide range of issues.  We’re really pleased to be able to offer additional funding to help more people to get the advice and support they need. If you’re worried about the cost of living, then please get in touch.”

The new “out of hours” adviceline is available from 4pm to 8pm during the week and 9am to 1pm on Saturday mornings on 0808 250 5724.

 

Daytime service details for local Citizens Advice services can be found by searching for your closest local office at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/search-for-your-local-citizens-advice