Free benefits and debt advice for South Glos residents

Posted on Thursday 3rd November 2011 at 9:23 am by SH (Editor)

South Gloucestershire Council

South Gloucestershire residents who need help with managing their debt or claiming welfare benefits are being helped thanks to a local advice service.

South Gloucestershire Council has awarded a three-year contract to a partnership of five local organisations to provide a free advice service for its residents.

The partnership is made up of voluntary and community sector organisations including Avon & Bristol Law Centre, Age UK South Gloucestershire, Bristol Debt Advice Centre, North Bristol Advice Centre and South Gloucestershire Citizens Advice Bureau.

Regardless of circumstances, anyone can ask for advice from these agencies by going to one of the drop-in sessions which are run at community venues across South Gloucestershire.

As well as looking out for drop-in sessions run in your local area, you can phone for initial advice and a home visiting service is available for people unable to visit their offices in person . All the agencies provide general advice, with specialist knowledge in welfare benefit and debt advice. They can also help with advice ranging from employment to community care.

Cllr Heather Goddard, executive member for health, external affairs and partnership development, said:

“We are delighted that in these tough financial times the council has agreed to continue to fund the service at the same core level.”

Carol Alexander-Reid, manager of Bristol Debt Advice Agency, said:

“We see a number of people on low incomes struggling to cover their priority payments such as rent, utilities and water. We advise them on how to prioritise their bills and payments correctly, and where appropriate, we refer them to our Energy Advice Project for assistance in clearing utility arrears, or if a client is considering an insolvency option such as bankruptcy, we advise them of their options and the processes involved.”

Case Study

A 58-year-old man came to the Patchway drop-in service for some advice. He was off work due to arthritis and in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay. His wife works 20 hours a week. They have just under £6,000 in savings and live in local authority accommodation.

Staff completed a benefit check for him, but their income was too high to be entitled to any means tested benefits.

We discussed the client’s health problems and discovered that he had mobility problems, and needed some help in caring for himself. We helped him make a claim for Disability Living Allowance, which is a non means tested benefit, and his weekly income has now increased by £64.50.

Contact the service’s office nearest to you:

  • Bristol Debt Advice Centre (Old Market, Bristol) – 0117 954 3990
  • North Bristol Advice Centre (Gainsborough Square, Lockleaze) – 0117 951 5751
  • South Gloucestershire Citizens Advice Bureau (Yate) – 08444 111 444
  • Age UK South Gloucestershire (Thornbury) – 01454 411707
  • Avon & Bristol Law Centre (Stokes Croft, Bristol) – 0117 99248662

Source: South Gloucestershire Council

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