Citizens Advice Bureau saved 40 people from becoming homeless last yearBy Laura Herbert
January 29, 2013
The town’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) helped people in Wokingham claim nearly £100,000 in benefits and saved 40 people from homelessness last year, according to a report.
Wokingham CAB’s Health and Poverty report revealed 4,110 people in Wokingham received help from the service last year.
Of those advised in 2011/12, 407 people from the borough lived within the 20 per cent most deprived areas in England.
The service is in contact with some of the most vulnerable people across the borough who need advice and support on issues including, benefits, debt, housing and employment.
CAB clients include 21 per cent social housing tenants, 13 per cent single parents and 13 per cent are people from black and minority ethnic communities.
Throughout the year, the service helped people gain £97,600 in benefits, 438 people had one or more debt repayments rescheduled, 52 people had one or more debts written off and 41 clients were prevented from becoming homeless. The report states: “Growing up in poverty damages children’s health and wellbeing, adversely affecting their future health and life chances as adults.
“Advice and information from the CAB lifts children out of poverty by increasing income and helping families to manage debts.”
As well as offering help at its offices in Market Place, the CAB also provides outreach services at Swallowfield Medical Practice, FBC Centre in Finchampstead, at Finchampstead Community House in Billing Avenue, telephone advice sessions and a home or hospital visiting service.
In 2011/12 the service advised 1,622 people about debts and/or benefits to help increase their income.
Of those people, 521 had dependent children and 601 were recorded as disabled and/or aged 60 or over.
As well as giving advice on benefit claims and debt, the service offers basic financial help such as budgeting, how to get the best energy deal and avoiding costly credit.
Staff at CAB also help and advise people in Wokingham with a disability and long-term health problems.
Figures from the service revealed 736 clients were recorded as disabled or with a long-term health problem, although CAB estimates this figure is around 910 as some the status of some clients was not recorded.
A breakdown of the statistics show 63 per cent of people had a long-term health condition, 11 per cent had mental health problems, 19 per cent had a physical or sensory impairment, three per cent had learning difficulties and four per cent had multiple impairments.
The report stated: “Clients with mental health problems have a higher level of debt problems than clients without a disability, while clients with other kinds of disability or long-term health problems are less likely to have debt problems.”
The service found disability to be the biggest cause of employment discrimination, bigger than race or gender. CAB also advised 129 people about threatened or actual homelessness, 22 people about domestic abuse and 55 people in need of neighbour or environmental advice.
Wokingham CAB offices are open from 9am to 3pm Monday to Thursday and from 9am to 1pm on Fridays.
Visit www.wokingham-cab.org.uk for information.