Cash boost for local Citizens Advice Bureaux

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VITAL advice services across the area are celebrating after receiving cash from the Big Lottery Fund.

The money has been allocated through the Advice Services Transition Fund, and also comes from the Cabinet Office, which contributed half.

It is being awarded to partnerships of local not-for-profit advice providers that will improve services by responding to the needs of people.

East Hampshire Citizens’ Advice Bureau received £338,100 towards its 2020 Vision for Advice project, which will see the service lead a 10-member team to redesign and rebuild advice services in East Hampshire and Havant.

Jonathan Stuart is the shared chief executive officer of East Hampshire and Havant Citizens Advice Bureaux.

He said: ‘This will enable us to not only increase our provision to the local community but it gives us a chance to redesign the operation to make it more economical to deliver more beyond this provision. It’s fantastic.’

The Gosport Citizens’ Advice Bureau received £252,000.

It will be working with other organisations to improve the current advice service in the areas of welfare benefits, debt, employment and housing.

The project will also target beneficiaries including those who are housebound and people who find it difficult to access advice during normal office hours.

Anita Muff, bureau manager, said: ‘We are really excited and thankful for the support from the Big Lottery Fund.

‘We are quite a small borough and sometimes smaller towns get forgotten about.

‘But they have taken on board that we need some help.’

And Portsmouth Citizens’ Advice Bureau received £287,214.

It will lead a partnership to improve efficiency and respond to gaps which have been identified in advice services.

It will also work to recruit more volunteers.

Lynne Davies, chief executive officer for the bureau, said: ‘We are really excited.

‘There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the need for advice will grow over the next two years.

‘It will be really good news for the city.’

The Advice Services Transition Fund was launched in October, making grants of up to £350,000 to be spent over two years.