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Monday, June 24, 2013

County's Advice Network wins praise from Welsh Government

The success of the Denbighshire Advice Network in securing over £100 million in extra social security benefits and tax credits during its lifetime has been praised as an example of best practice in a report issued by the Welsh Government.

The Denbighshire Advice Network was set up following local government reorganisation in 1996 and network members work together to ensure that both specialist and generalist advice is available throughout the county meeting the needs of a diverse range of clients.

Members meet on a quarterly basis to discuss new legislation and polity, to discuss good practice, access free training, undertake joint campaigns and share information about new projects.

Now it has been cited as example of best practice in the Welsh Government document, ‘Advice Services Review: Final Research Report’.

Membership of the Network ranges from Age Concern to Youth Inclusion Programme, Shelter Cymru to Denbighshire’s Family Information Service, Mental Health Advocacy Service to the Voluntary Services Council, working to ensure that all advice providers across the age and specialism spectrum are engaged and as many local people as possible have access to effective information and advice services.

In 2012 Network members lead a successful project bid to the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund, supported by the joint Conwy and Denbighshire Local Service Board, to deliver a financial inclusion and anti-poverty project across Conwy and Denbighshire.

Some of the successes from last year include:
  • £10.8m in confirmed State Benefit and Tax Credit gains, a 31% increase on last year and a record high since Denbighshire County Council started in 1996.
  • 246 people have been represented at appeal tribunals with a 66% success rate, mainly overturning decisions to disentitled people from Employment and Support Allowance.
  • Lifting 567  children  and  997 adults above the UK and Welsh Government's 60% median income poverty lines, in total this is a 52% increase on last year and a record high.
  • Raising 419 households out of fuel poverty, a 68% increase on last year and a record high.
  • CAB resolved £18m of personal debt for 1761 people,  a 5% increase on last year.
Richard Jones Abbas, Denbighshire’s Welfare Rights Manager, said: “We are delighted that the Welsh Government has recognised the tremendous amount of good work going on in Denbighshire to reduce poverty and to make sure people know what they are entitled to claim.

“In this current economic climate, it is vital that people have access to lots of advice and information of where there are funds available and how to access them in times of need".

People wanting welfare rights advice can contact a number of organisations for information and support.

■ Denbighshire’s Welfare Rights team
Freephone 0800 169 6625
(Weekdays 10am -4pm)
■ Denbighshire CAB
01745 334568 or 814336.

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