New city advice service to focus on debt and finances
A new advice service for the city focusing on debt advice could be launched in early 2014.
The economic downturn and the welfare reforms have led to an unprecedented high demand for support and advice. In response to this, Leeds City Council’s executive board will be considering a report around a new advice service for the city at a meeting of the board next week(Wednesday 17 July).
Subject to the success of ongoing discussions, a consortium of Leeds Advice Agencies would offer a more integrated and accessible service covering a range of issues including welfare benefits, debt, housing, employment, consumer affairs, utilities and immigration/asylum, but focusing on the financial aspect to begin with.
The executive board will be recommended to agree a three year contract for the service, to the value of £1.36m per year, at a meeting on Wednesday 17 July 2013, with the capacity for two one year extensions and being delivered by a consortium of Leeds Advice Agencies.
Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:
“As a city we need to meet the growing demand for free impartial and confidential advice especially focusing on financial advice at a time of unprecedented high demand for such support.
“We need to do all we can to help people out of poverty, and prevent others from falling into this bracket – we are already seeing the effects of welfare reform with people falling into rent arrears and council tax arrears. As a council we are willing to provide money for this vital service and ensure that it works in the best way possible.
“Through appointing the consortium of Leeds Advice Agencies , subject to the continuing negotiations, we can retain local employment and volunteering opportunities, attract additional public and charitable investment into the city and further develop the strong local advice network. The consortium has a good understanding of the city and its diverse range of neighbourhoods and communities.”
The new service would make better use of technology, council assets and would ensure a
more targeted neighbourhood and community approach to help communities most in need.
Notes to editors:
A detailed review of all current service provision was conducted between September 2012
and March 2013.
Alongside the review, a detailed consultation took place with current advice providers, such as
citizens advice bureaux and local third sector organisations who deliver advice alongside
other important community services. It also involved talking with current users of
advice services to better understand why they need advice and how they would prefer to
access it in the future.
For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450