Dorchester City Council to spend savings to help Citizens Advice

DORCHESTER City Council must devote part of the savings made during the year to helping the Citizens Advice Bureau – after ending the year in a better position than expected.

The authority ended the year £ 50,000 better than expected with its annual budget of around £ 1.5 million.

Part of the savings comes from not being able to carry out many of the activities she would normally have done, although in other areas the pandemic has cost her more.

Among the income cuts were a drop in market fees and income from renting out municipal buildings, while personal protective equipment and buying laptops for work from home added £ 18,000 to the government’s bills. advice.

The annual city council meeting learned that Covid had delayed the renovation of Cornhill and the Poundbury Cemetery wall, but had helped speed up the redevelopment of city buildings.

The meeting voted in favor of a request for funding from the Citizens Advice Bureau to help cover the costs of additional advisers for a small team specializing in employment rights that had been set up to deal with a growing number of cases. case.

In its first five months, the unit helped 85 clients with employment issues, 30% of them from Dorchester.

Cllr Janet Hewitt was among those supporting the additional grant, which could amount to £ 13,600.

“It’s absolutely crucial. We haven’t seen the worst yet as various government programs begin to end, ”she said.

Commending the CAB’s work, she said over the past few months, she has referred 21 local families to the office for help.

The donation comes after it emerged that Dorset‘s Citizen Advisory Services are facing a 30% increase in applications from people in debt or worried about their jobs due to the pandemic.

Citizens Advice Central – which covers areas between Shaftsbury, Gillingham, Sherborne, Dorchester, Weymouth and Portland – has 45 part-time staff and 170 volunteers.

Staff, which typically process around 30,000 queries a year, have seen a steady increase since the first lockdown and workers expect more people to come forward once the leave ends and companies cut more. jobs. mortgage and credit card the payment holidays end.

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