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Consultation on the way advice is provided in city

Published on Monday, July 31, 2017

CHANGES are being proposed to the way social welfare advice is provided in Leicester.

Currently, the city council funds five voluntary agencies to offer people advice on issues relating to welfare benefits, debt, employment, housing, community care, immigration and family matters. It also has its own in-house welfare rights service.

However, the council is now consulting on whether to change the way it delivers and funds these advice services.

Cllr Sue Waddington, assistant city mayor responsible for jobs and skills, said: “Thousands of Leicester residents seek advice each year from council-funded providers, from basic information about rights and benefits through to resolving complex problems where help is needed at appeals.

“Although we need to reduce the amount of money that we spend on advice services, due to Government cuts, we still want to ensure that we are providing accessible quality advice provision for all Leicester people who need it.

“We currently have contracts with five voluntary agencies, which run out in spring 2018. This gives us the chance to propose changes to the service and check that we are delivering what people need, in the most efficient way we can. We will look at our in-house service at the same time.

“The views of everyone interested in our proposals for changes in the way council-funded welfare advice is organised – including advice seekers and providers – will be most welcome.”

Proposals have been drawn up to continue to provide free, confidential and independent advice to those people who need it most, with both general and specialist advice on offer, including appeals and tribunals work.

In addition, any new service would continue to provide a fast-track service for clients in need of immediate action, as well as outreach advice in community locations, and home visits for people who are unable to leave their home.

However, the proposal for the future is that just one organisation would hold a contract with the city council, and that organisation would take the lead in ensuring that people access the right advice service, first-time.

This organisation would run the advice service from the council’s customer service centre in Granby Street in the city centre. Eight centres in the community, across the city, would also provide advice.

The proposals also suggest supporting people to help themselves by giving them basic information and showing them where they can get further help, especially online. People in crisis will continue to receive one-to-one support to help resolve their issues.

The consultation runs from today (31 July) until 6 October. To take part, fill in the questionnaire at consultations.leicester.gov.uk or pick up a paper form from the council’s libraries, other council buildings, or the customer service centre in Granby Street.

People can also email social-welfare-advice@leicester.gov.uk to request copies of the survey.

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