The value of Citizens Advice Cornwall

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Citizens Advice Cornwall has helped more than 19,000 people with 46,000 issues from problems with benefits to debt and from housing to discrimination, according to new statistics revealed by the charity today in its annual report for 2017-18.

The organisation’s dedicated team of advisers, working from eight offices and outreach centres from Saltash to the Isles of Scilly, helped people gain £3.6 million in income they were entitled to and write-off debt worth £5.1 million.

Launching the report, CA Cornwall chair of trustees, Gill Pipkin, said: “Citizens Advice continues to provide a crucial service to all the people of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly free of charge through our dedicated network of volunteers and staff.

“Demand for our advice continues at a very high level, broadly in line with the last two years.

“Despite concerns about funding earlier in the year, we are now on course with our plan to provide more outreach services and to improve our accessibility to clients with the use of new technology.

“As ever, I would like to pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of our 160 volunteers, who between them contributed 29,000 hours of service worth £216k and to Sue Swift, my predecessor as chair of trustees, who helped navigate the organisation through our financial negotiations with Cornwall Council.”

Most people came to CA Cornwall about debt issues (37%), followed by benefits and tax credits (28%), financial services (9%), housing (5%), employment (4%) and relationships and family (also 4%).

Main debt arrears in 2017-18 were credit cards (£2.1m), unsecured loans (£1.8m), benefits overpayments (£481k), overdrafts (£375k), water bills (£363k), council tax (£332k) and mortgage arrears (£318k).

The main benefits issues were Personal Independence Payments, followed by Employment Support Allowance and Tax Credits. The period covered by the report does not include the full implementation of Universal Credit in Cornwall.