New Forest CAB AGM 2014
The New Forest Citizens Advice Bureau held its AGM on Thursday 27th November in the Council Chamber, Lymington Town Hall.
The meeting, chaired by Jeremy Taylor, Chair of the Bureau, approved the Annual Accounts and re-election of Trustees.
Andy Clapper, the new CEO appointed in July 2014, presented the Annual Report. Andy thanked volunteers for their outstanding commitment through the year and shared a remarkable statistic with the meeting: the 40,000 hours of work contributed by volunteers over the last year had an equivalent financial value of over £600,000. However it was not just the number and value of hours that makes the difference: it takes up to 2 years to become a fully trained adviser and the expertise that they can offer to the people who need them is second to none.
The Bureau helped nearly 9,000 people and addressed more than 17,000 problems. Welfare benefits accounted for the highest number of problems, but debt employment and housing also featured strongly.
Andy also emphasised the Bureau’s campaigning role, explaining how it uses the information it collects to try and make a difference on policy and practice, locally and, through the Citizens Advice network, nationally. At the moment in the New Forest, people are experiencing particular difficulties with delays in welfare benefit assessments, mis-selling on the doorstep and by phone, and poor
practice by bailiffs.
Looking forward, continuing austerity and welfare benefit changes means the Bureau’s work is likely to increase whilst its sources of funding come under greater pressure. Andy thanked the many town and parish councils which continue to support the bureau’s work and other organisations which had made donations. Special thanks were given to the New Forest District Council which is
the Bureau’s main funder and a strong supporter of its work.
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