In the last month I have been making representations on behalf of Citizens Advice Newcastle. The Money and Pensions Service is in the process of recommissioning debt advice services in England and the Department for Work and Pensions is also tendering for a new service to support people with Universal Credit claims. Both services are run in Newcastle in a sub-contracting arrangement with the national Citizens Advice for which they receive £400,000 a year. This equates to almost half of their total funding.
The process remains ongoing, so we don’t yet know the impact on Citizens Advice Newcastle. However, I am strongly concerned about the financial implications and that the move will involve a significant shift away from face-to-face advice. Due to the often sensitive and complex nature of cases many people prefer to meet in-person.
Their work makes a considerable difference to the lives of many in East Newcastle. I have therefore written to Therese Coffey, the Secretary for Work and Pensions to raise these issues and Newcastle City council about their relatively low allocation of funding to Citizens Advice Newcastle compared to other local authorities.