At a meeting of Mansfield District Council last night (29 October), Councillors agreed a £57,000 funding package to create a Welfare Rights Specialist who will work for Mansfield Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).
The new Welfare Rights Specialist will train a team of volunteers to help clients to appeal against benefit decisions. This post will be for 30 hours per week and has been funded for three years.
Funding for the post for the current financial year (2013/14) at a value of £12,000 was agreed on 14 October by the Portfolio Holder for Resources and Deputy Mayor, Cllr Roger Sutcliffe.
Last night Councillor agreed to earmark £57,000 of unallocated reserves to provide funding for the post in 2014/15 (£23,000), 2015/16 (£23,000) and 2016/17 (£11,000).
The CAB currently receives £55,000 from the District Council, which supports the organisation’s running cost.
Earlier this year both the CAB and Nottingham Credit Union submitted applications to the Council for grant-in-aid in response to increased pressures brought about by the economic climate and the introduction of changes to national welfare benefits.
The grant-in-aid application from NCU was not approved but a package of support measures, aimed at helping boost membership which in turn will make the service self-sustaining, were agreed to be progressed. These include:
Identifying premises which would provide the necessary location and profile to attract customers
Explore funding opportunities for an apprentice post through the Council’s existing regeneration support programmes
Assessing short term accommodation options at the Civic Centre
Assessing the provision of administrative support for form checking within the Civic Centre
Consideration of joining NCU as a Corporate Member
Allowing NCU to use funds previously allocated to Maun Valley Credit Union for a private sector bond scheme in return for NCU taking responsibility for administration of the scheme and recovery of sums outstanding
Assessing the possibility of using NCU to provide a private sector bond scheme with referrals from the Multi- Agency Rented Solutions (MARS) project
Providing a loan facility for the purchase of premises
Involvement in the East Midlands Credit Union scheme to encourage council tenants to make regular savings for which NCU is an agent
Cllr Roger Sutcliffe, Portfolio Holder for Resources and Deputy Mayor, said: “It is really important in these tough times we do what we can to help preserve what is a vital source of independent help and advice for many of our residents.
“The funding offered by the Council will enable the CAB to assist the increasing number of people seeking support and advice relating to benefits. With our support, we hope to secure NCU’s future within the Mansfield District by increasing its membership which will make the service self-sustaining.”