Funding has been found for Wrexham’s Citizens Advice service, following a campaign led by Ian Lucas MP.
Mr Lucas put the plight of the service in the spotlight after learning it was facing closure this summer because its funding had been cut by Wrexham Council.
The Labour MP for Wrexham wrote to the council’s executive director Lee Robinson and deputy leader Hugh Jones urging them to find the funds to save the service, and also supported a petition started by the Wrexham Labour Party to keep the town’s Citizens Advice office on Grosvenor Road open.
Following a motion tabled by the council’s Labour Group, the matter was discussed at an Executive Board meeting on Tuesday, June 12 when a decision was taken to grant Wrexham Citizens Advice £25,000.
Mr Lucas said: “The decision from the council represents progress, but it has only come about because of political pressure from the Labour Group and myself. I have no doubt that the closure of the service would have had a severe impact on the welfare of people in Wrexham, which is why my Labour Party colleagues and I campaigned for the funds to keep it open.”
Mr Lucas added: “The advent of PIP payments has meant there is a greater strain on our advice services than ever before. The council now needs to have a serious discussion and consultation about advice services within Wrexham, and make sure there is an adequate system in place to provide these services.
“It should be a full, public consultation -; not carried out in private.”
The council’s Executive Board decided at a meeting in 2015 to phase out core funding to the Citizens Advice service. It meant Wrexham was the only local authority in Wales not to support its Citizens Advice office.
When Mr Lucas learned that the Wrexham service faced closure this July because all funds had dried up, he began a campaign to keep it open.
In 2017-18, the Wrexham Citizens Advice office – which serves the town and wider county borough – handled 16,107 cases and saw 3,375 clients covering a wide array of issues including debt advice, consumer rights, housing applications, neighbour disputes, and complaints about the health service or care homes.
The loss of the service would leave people with no viable alternative, as the council’s in-house Welfare Rights Unit deals only with welfare benefit issues.
The £25,000 grant is half what Citizens Advice Wrexham had requested but is enough to ensure the service does not have to close this summer.