An independent charity relying on local grants and donations to fund its work, Craven and Harrogate District’s Citizens Advice has been running at a deficit for three years.
In a sign of how tough times are for many local charities, two benefits caseworkers based in Harrogate, who shared one full-time role, have been made redundant in an effort to rebalance the books.
But Citizens Advice Craven and Harrogate District’s chief executive emphasised this still left the organisation with enough resources to do what is an increasingly important job advising people in the areas of trading standards, debt management and the Universal Credit system, in particular.
Edward Pickering said: “For the past three years we have been running at a deficit, trying to keep our services open to help over 3,000 people in the district with the problems that face them, but we have realised that this cannot go on. We know at least one other big charity in the area has ceased to operate because of financial pressures.
“We have more than 50 volunteers in our Harrogate office who provide an amazing service to help people whatever their problem. We are a local charity here to help local people.”
Edward Pickering said: “This is one of a series of changes we will need to make over the next year to ensure that we are still here to help the people of Harrogate in the next five to ten years.
“Even though we work closely with North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council, we struggle to stress to people that we are an independent local charity and things like
The Local Lotto and public donations make a big difference to allow us to continue.
“It is particularly hard to find the money to fund roles like benefit caseworkers as they perform a very specialist role, representing clients who need to appeal the decisions made by the DWP.
“Recently we have been able to fundraise to find a way to continue to provide similar support, but not enough to be able to continue to employ the existing staff full time.”
Citizens Advice Craven and Harrogate District’s chief executive is keen to stress that people in Harrogate in 2019 who have problems with their benefits can still come for advice, either face-to-face, over the phone or online.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the service can visit its online donation page or email [email protected]
Its Harrogate district offices are now closed for the Christmas period until Wednesday, January 2.