May 31, 2022 9.10 pm

Citizens’ Advice funding plea as charity faces ‘double whammy’ of problems

The service is dealing with record demand and fewer volunteers

By Local Democracy Reporter

There has been a call to increase funding for Citizens Advice Lincolnshire as it faces an onslaught of people in need.

The charity helped over 17,000 people last year, with many money worries driven by the soaring energy and food prices.

However, demand has been so great that the Lincolnshire services could only answer 36% of calls.

Labour Councillor Karen Lee urged the county council to increase its annual grant to expand its reach in the time of crisis.

“I’d like to ask some of my colleagues on this committee to join me in recommending that Lincolnshire County Council actually increase the amount that we give to the Citizens Advice Bureau because what they currently get is perhaps a third of what they save us,” she told the Public Protection and Communities Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday.

“I think there’s a good argument to be made for doing that. It would be at least a start and perhaps other people could help you with more money.

“Lincolnshire County Council give £278,000 in a grant, but you say that the savings that you create are £729,338.

“Money isn’t the answer to everything, but you’ve clearly said that the issue is resourcing funding, so it actually would help you.”

Citizens’ Advice gives support on a range of problems | Photo: Adobe Stock

Monica Stark, the chair of Citizens Advice Lincolnshire, said the service had been struggling in the face of rising demand and a drop-off in the number of volunteers.

She said that Citizens Advice Lincolnshire would need an extra 15 full-time volunteers in order to answer 80% of the calls it receives.

“We have had a tripling of demand. And obviously our finances, not just via the county council, but in other areas have diminished. So this is a double whammy that we’re struggling with. So yes, we would appreciate any help,” she said.

Citizens Advice also saves government and councils money, she added, due to “fewer payments for out-of-work benefits, costly evictions, rehousing, evicted tenants, and less demand on the NHS.”

The committee heard that the end of the £20 Universal Credit uplift had been one of the main causes for people struggling.

However, councillors said they were unable to consider an increase in funding during that meeting.

If you need advice or support, Citizens Advice branches offer help for people living in Lincoln, South Lincolnshire, Mid Lincolnshire, and Lindsey.