During the year the four Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) offices in the Western Isles have dealt with client contacts totalling 5,136, who raised 6,424 issues.
The top enquiries of 41% related to Welfare Benefits which was an increase of 6% compared to the previous year and debt related problems were at 18%, as staff dealt with new debts for the year totalling £1,619,020.
The other 41% of enquiries related to such matters as employment, housing, legal, NHS concerns and complaints, Council and Income Tax to name a few.
“The past year has seen a lot of changes, challenges and achievements,” said WICAS Chairman, David Blaney as the organisation prepares for this year’s AGM.
He continued: “In particular the Welfare Reform legislation has led to, as expected, a greater demand on our services.
“As the growing economic and financial pressures are felt by many in our community so has the need for debt advice increased as has advice to those who are facing difficulties in meeting rent and mortgage payments.”
As in previous years many clients were given representation at Social Security and Employment Tribunals with excellent results in most of the cases.
Client financial gains, including the above figure amounted to just under £600,000. As some clients do not inform the bureaux of the financial outcome of successful advice, the amount is in all likelihood bound to be greater.
WICAS is accredited to Scottish National Standards for Advice and Information and also meets he Membership requirements of Citizens Advice Scotland by passing the Quality of Advice and Organisational Audits.
WICAS is grateful to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for the continued funding of the vital service to the people of the Western Isles and income from the six Projects being run by the organisation helps to supplement the core funding provided by the Council.
The four bureaux are continually looking for new volunteers who will be given training to carry out various duties in their offices and if anyone can give some of their time they can contact either of the offices for more information.
WICAS Training Officer, Norah MacPhee said: ”Life is never dull in any of our offices and one look at the numerous and varied types of issues raised just goes to show how our volunteers can get hooked on their work as the variety of enquiries is endless.”
Details of the bureau offices ares:
Castlebay, Isle of Barra, HS9 5XD
Public Telephone Number 01871 810608
Pier Road, Tarbert, Isle of Harris, HS3 3BG
Public Telephone Number 01859 502431
41-43 Westview Terrace, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS1 2HP
Public Telephone Number 01851 705727
45 Winfield Way, Balivanich, Benbecula, HS7 5LH
Public Telephone Number 01870 602421
The Annual General Meeting will be held in Committee Room 3 at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Stornoway, on Tuesday 18 August 2015 at 12 noon. All welcome to attend.