Derbyshire County Council award Citizens’ Advice Bureau contract

Plans to open advice centres in Derbyshire children’s centres came a step nearer after the authority awarded contracts to the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Local people will be able to get free advice on everything from debt management and welfare rights to housing issues and getting back to work when the new service opens.

It is expected to be up and running in April.

Derbyshire County Council is investing almost £500,000 in helping hard-pressed families get the help and information they need.

Coun Kevin Gillott, the county council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said it helped that children’s centres were already at the heart of communities.

He said: “Times are difficult for a lot of families in Derbyshire. By providing advice sessions in our children’s centres, people can get free and confidential advice when and where they need it.”

Children’s centres already offer support to families, but the rising cost of living combined with low incomes, high unemployment and changes to benefits has led to an increase in demand for advice.

Coun Gillott said: “Families in Derbyshire are facing a great deal of pressure due to the economic climate.

“As one of our main priorities is to tackle inequalities, we have found the money to invest in advice centres from our public health budget as we recognise the link between hardship, stress and poor health.”

Levels of child poverty in Derbyshire are rising, explained Coun Gillott.

“With two thirds of poor children in this country living in families where an adult works, it is important we help people where we can.

“Research shows that poverty and debt have a very serious impact on health and we are doing what we can to reduce health inequalities in the county.”

In October last year, the county council’s cabinet agreed to fund the advice centres. It awarded the contract to the CAB at a meeting of its Cabinet on Tuesday (Feb 11).

Coun Gillott added: “For every pound we spend on advice, families are helped to manage £32 of their debt. They also gain an extra £10 of income, such as free school meals or tax credits.

“The council has to make difficult decisions due to cuts by the Coalition Government of £157million, but helping hard-pressed Derbyshire families is one of our priorities.”

Email your views to Stephen Thirkill