Got a problem with welfare reforms in East Dunbartonshire? Call the CAB!

15.11.12 Photograph Jamie Forbes.  KIRKINTILLOCH, Citizens Advice Bureau, 11 Alexandra Street, Kirkintilloch. Catherine Bradley with staff and volunteers.
15.11.12 Photograph Jamie Forbes. KIRKINTILLOCH, Citizens Advice Bureau, 11 Alexandra Street, Kirkintilloch. Catherine Bradley with staff and volunteers.

IT can seem like the world is shifting beneath your feet – bills are mounting up, benefits are changing, your home might be under threat – so it’s reassuring to know there is a dedicated group

solidly on your side.

East Dunbartonshire Citizens Advice Bureau has been a guiding light for many through the murk of recession, welfare cuts and shrinking services.

Radical changes being brought in by the Westminster Government will have a massive impact on many and the CAB is already dealing with the fall-out.

In the last six months almost half of all enquiries to East Dunbartonshire CAB were connected with benefits, tax credits and National Insurance - 3,497, an increase of nearly 700 on the previous six months.

That will only rise even higher as the changes kick in and people try to adjust to a very different new system.

The introduction of Universal Credit will mean a benefit cap is applied to claimants from next April. It will also involve changes to how people pay rent and more.

The present system is complex, the imminent changes equally so – and for a number of years the two systems will be running together.

For now there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Universal Credit system – meaning the CAB is more vital than ever.

Bureau manager Catherine Bradley said: “The demand for services as regards welfare reform is astounding and it’s ever increasing.

“As they start to introduce welfare reforms we’re expecting another surge in our figures.”

CAB has particular concerns for people who are more vulnerable – perhaps with mental health issues or learning difficulties.

It works with a variety of partners – such as East Dunbartonshire Council, Ceartas, Carers Link, Women’s Aid, mental health groups and Trading Standards – to ensure no-one falls between the cracks.

As well as advising on welfare issues, CAB also offers support on debt, housing, legal issues, consumer goods, employment, financial services, health and community care, tax and more.

Catherine said: “The earlier people come to us, the more likely it is we can find a full resolution to their issue, particularly if it’s a debt issue.

“It doesn’t matter how trivial someone thinks their issue or enquiry is, phone us or come in and see us. If we can’t help we will know someone who can.”

East Dunbartonshire CAB is based in Kirkintilloch and has outreach offices in Bishopbriggs and Milngavie. There are plans to expand Bishopbriggs in the New Year.

Advisors also carry out home visits for those with mobility issues and hold regular surgeries in Lennoxtown, Auchinairn, Twechar and Milngavie.

East Dunbartonshire CAB has also been working with local group Ceartas on the Older People’s Advice Line (OPAL).

In addition, it regularly puts on community presentations for groups, organisations and schools.

Catherine praised the 15 staff and 42 volunteers who currently help to provide the excellent local service.

If you are seeking advice or can spare a few hours to volunteer, call 0141 775 3220 or e-mail bureau@edbartoncab.casonline.org.uk

You can visit the Kirkintilloch office at 11 Alexandra Street, Kirkintilloch.

There is a part-time outreach service at Bishopbriggs at 5 Springfield House, Emerson Road.

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