Citizens Advice Bureau disability benefits team in Uttlesford under threat of closure
- Credit: Archant
The district’s disability benefits team is urgently seeking funding to keep its service from shutting down within the next six months.
Every year Uttlesford’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) helps hundreds of people with disabilities receive the benefits they are entitled to, free of charge. The 12 trained volunteers travel to their clients, also offering advice on transport options, fall prevention, carers’ support and legal issues.
The service has been funded by Essex County Council (ECC)’s adult social care fund for 14 years, which discontinued in March 2013. Since then Uttlesford CAB has been using reserve money to fund the team, but this is fast running out.
22-year-old Marcus Land, of Castle Cross, cares for his mother full-time. Samantha Land suffers from multiple sclerosis, and Marcus relies on the CAB’s Disability Benefits Team to help fill out benefit forms for her, as well as assist with household and electrical bills.
“I’ve been caring for my mum since I was about 15, and CAB has been helping me for about two years now,” he said.
“They went through all the forms with me. When I got the Disability Living Allowance form I wasn’t sure I could do it on my own. It’s about 12 pages long and very hard. I’m new to all this – I couldn’t have done it without them.”
“They were superb. Without that service I wouldn’t have had anywhere to go to. If it wasn’t for them I might not be standing in this house today,” he added.
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85 per cent of those using the service suffer from physical disabilities, and 10 per cent have mental health issues – making it extremely difficult for those seeking advice on disability benefits to physically get to Uttlesford CAB office in Barnards Yard.
“People have transport issues and it can be difficult for them to travel to CAB for us to help them here,” said manager Kate Robson. “Those issues are exacerbated when people have disabilities.”
“But we still need services in this district. It shouldn’t just be the ECC who has the responsibility for funding us, but the money does need to come from somewhere,” she said, adding they were in talks with ECC, as well as West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group and Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) with the hope of obtaining funding soon.
To find out more go about the service go to uttlesfordcab.org.uk, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Saffron Walden office is open from 9.30am to 3.30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The Great Dunmow branch is open from 9.30am to 3.30pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.