Leeds City Council is developing a new advice service for the city.
This is in response to the huge increase in demand across Leeds for free and independent advice in the light of the ongoing welfare reforms and Government cuts.
Currently a range of advice services are delivered across the city by a number of different organisations. These include information, guidance and referral services as well as more detailed casework which can require legal expertise.
Advice is delivered from locations across the city and also in such venues as children’s centres, GP surgeries and the Council’s One-Stop Centres. The council is working with partners to look at how current investment can be used to develop a new service. This will build on the many successful and well-used elements of current advice provision, whilst introducing some new elements, including more effective use of technology, to support more residents of the city.
To make sure the new service can meet rising demand across Leeds, the council and its partners, including NHS Leeds, are currently reviewing all advice provision in the city. This involves consulting with current advice providers, such as citizens advice bureaux and local third sector organisations who deliver advice alongside other important community services. Crucially, it also involves talking with current users of advice services to better understand why they need advice and how they would prefer to access it in the future.
The findings from this consultation will be used to shape directly what the new service looks like. The main aim is to give the people of Leeds choice in how, where and when they can get sound and independent advice, whether that is related to a debt problem, a concern about housing or a query regarding a change to someone’s benefits.
Councillor Bernard Atha, Leeds City Council lead member with responsibility for resources said
“I am concerned about the impact that welfare reform will have on vulnerable people across the city and therefore the council is determined to provide high quality and free advice to Leeds citizens when and where they need it.
“We want to hear what potential partners have to say about how we could deliver the service, and have been seeking their views to inform how we can be more effective in the future.
“We need to look at all our options for how best to deliver answers to meet the questions and continuing needs of communities and groups across a city as large and diverse as ours in the next few years. That is why we are planning to support the new service for at least three years, a real commitment in the current climate of public funding “.
For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450