A partnership between Harrogate Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Harrogate Borough Council to cushion the blow of the national welfare reforms on local people has attracted a Big Lottery grant of £160,000.
Funding has come through the Advice Services Transition Fund. Those applying had to be able to demonstrate a partnership between a not-for-profit advice provider working with a district council to provide a scheme that would reflect the full needs of the people and communities in its area.
Many organisations in the district are being increasingly faced with distressed clients who have pressing problems and the current advice providers cannot meet the demand for referrals.
Carol Barber, Manager of the Harrogate CAB, said:
The main basis of our bid for this funding is the absence of sufficient agencies working in the district to meet the level of advice needed by those who are affected by the welfare reforms and other issues.
In a county where specialist social welfare law provision per head of population is perhaps the lowest in the country, due mainly to the lack of population density, there is a need to harness the available expertise.
The funding received from the Big Lottery is being used to equip these non-advice organisations to help plug the advice gap. This will allow the principal advice providers to target their limited resources to support those in greatest need.
Councillor Jim Clark, Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, is fully supportive of the project:
Over 900 of our housing tenants will be affected by the move to universal credit. They will be faced with the considerable challenge of having to manage their budgets so that they can afford to pay their rent from their universal credit monies rather than having the rent money paid direct to the council. And 300 of our tenants have been affected by the social size restrictions for housing benefit.
Many of these tenants will have difficulty in managing their finances. As a council we are offering advice to current and new tenants but the more we can get others equipped to offer advice the more chance we have of helping those most in need.