Citizens Advice Northumberland launched its Impact Report 2022-23 at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in December at Newbiggin’s Community Hub.
Record numbers of people came to Citizens Advice Northumberland during 2023 to find help with cost of living, energy problems, debt and crisis support.
In 2022-23 the charity provided information and advice to almost 30,000 clients with over 60,000 issues. This resulted in direct income gain of over £5,400,000 for the local community and over £1 million of debt written off or repayments rescheduled. These figures include help for people in the wider region and further afield through a national debt advice programme led by Citizens Advice Northumberland.
The Impact Report reveals that twenty per cent of all problems dealt with in 2022/23 related to debt. There was an increase from the previous year in energy/fuel poverty and welfare benefits issues. A new category of charitable contributions/foodbanks recorded 5,488 issues.
Abi Conway, chief executive of Citizens Advice Northumberland, said: “The continuing challenges of the cost-of-living crisis can be seen in stark relief throughout the Impact Report. We have worked harder than ever this year to help people across the county find solutions to problems which can dominate their lives. Citizens Advice Northumberland has grown rapidly to address the huge demand for its high-quality services.
“We are determined to continue helping as many as we can, however remote they may be, and will work with our partners and the community to create new opportunities for change. We owe a great deal to our dedicated volunteers and staff, whose skills and commitment make a real difference to local people’s lives.”
The report sets out how Citizens Advice responded to the huge demand for its services in 2022/23, and its plans for the year ahead. The theme for this year’s AGM was ‘Working together to make Northumberland stronger’, as partnerships with communities, public and private sectors are vitally important to bringing about positive results.
For example, Citizens Advice Northumberland has established its Community Advice Service, which works with schools, foodbanks and parish councils to train their staff and volunteers as Citizens Advice Volunteer Connectors. This boosts the capacity at Citizens Advice Northumberland to meet demand for services. It is supported by Northumberland County Council and the North of Tyne Combined Authority. Cllr Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council, was keynote speaker at the AGM event.
There are now 130 staff and 86 volunteers at Citizens Advice Northumberland. More than 50 jobs were created in Northumberland this year to run a new national debt advice service delivered by Citizens Advice Northumberland and Citizens Advice North Tyneside. The new service, one of only three national contracts, is funded by the government-backed Money and Pensions Service (MaPS).
There are nine Citizens Advice locations across Northumberland in Alnwick, Ashington, Berwick, Blyth, Hexham, Prudhoe, Morpeth, Amble and Cramlington. During the pandemic the service was mostly provided by Northumberland Adviceline, but now each centre is also busy with face-to-face meetings.
Citizens Advice Northumberland’s staff and trained volunteers provide advice on any issue. The primary advice needs are welfare benefits, housing, debt and money advice, employment, fuel poverty, energy efficiency, family and personal matters, taxes, immigration, health and education, consumer and discrimination issues.
Watch the AGM here.
Download the Impact Report here.