On a visit to Denbighshire’s Citizens Advice Bureau the Minister said that the forthcoming UK Government changes to Welfare Reform, including the introduction of Universal Credit, would change the benefits landscape beyond recognition and would have significant implications for how support on benefit take-up and wider advice is delivered.
He said that the £2.2 million per year funding from the Welsh Government would support the work Citizens Advice Bureaux are undertaking across Wales in supporting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
Carl Sargeant said:
"The Welsh Government is very much aware of the pressures currently being faced by the advice sector. It is vital that front-line services are safeguarded, that the people of Wales receive good services, and that these are delivered by means which secure value for money at a time when public expenditure is under pressure.
"We must focus on what we are able to achieve within the devolved context and recognise that we must work with a number of partners to break the cycle of disadvantage that causes financial exclusion. Citizens Advice Cymru and the Bureaux are vital to this.
"This package I am announcing today will help deliver on our Programme for Government commitment to support third sector advice providers to assist people who have debt problems and help people manage their finances. It will also address another of our priorities which is to help mitigate the impact of changes to the benefits system proposed by the UK Government."
The Minister said that the funding would bring together the existing Better Advice, Better Health scheme, the Children’s Disability Benefit take-up campaign and Council Tax and Housing Benefit take-up scheme under one umbrella. Additional revenue costs of £230,000 will also be provided per annum to support the Adviceline Cymru telephone helpline service to meet the anticipated increase in demand for the service in view of UK Government changes to Welfare Reform.
"I am pleased to be able to continue to support the work of Citizens Advice Cymru and the Bureaux. In the changing economic circumstances, we must ensure that advice services across Wales are equipped to provide appropriate, timely advice to their customers. The funding I’ve announced today is an important step in ensuring this happens."