A single advice line will strengthen the advice network as it faces unprecedented pressure from people adjusting to changes in circumstances during the recession. Overall advice enquiries to the Citizens Advice Bureaux in Wales in 2008-2009 rose to almost 300,000, an annual increase of 11%.
Speaking ahead of the 70th birthday celebrations of the Citizens Advice Bureaux in the Senedd, the First Minister said:
“This funding will establish a much needed telephone service via a Virtual Call Centre, which will give people greater access to telephone advice in English or in Welsh. It will also be able to meet the needs of more clients across Wales, which is especially good news during these difficult economic times.
“Over the last 70 years Citizens Advice have always been looking to the future and utilising new technologies for the benefit of their clients. They are not standing still; rather they are responding head on to the surge in demand for their services during the recession. This new money demonstrates our determination to provide families with more help and support to help get them through the recession.
“As someone who personally celebrated my 70th birthday this year I can understand what a mega-milestone this is for the Citizens Advice Bureaux, but while I will be stepping down from my responsibilities this year, I know that Citizens Advice Cymru will be stepping up their service level and continue to go from strength to strength.”
Fran Targett, Director of Citizens Advice Cymru said:
“We warmly welcome this significant investment by the Welsh Assembly Government. As a network of independent community based charities, we are determined to improve access to the services we provide and the Citizens Advice Telephone Service (CATS) will mean that everyone living in Wales will be able to contact the Citizens Advice Bureaux service via one single number. With the human cost of the current recession likely to be particularly acute and long lasting, there will be even greater demand on the advice services we provide over the short to medium term. This investment by the Government of Wales will make it easier for those requiring help to contact the service. The CATS system will be fully bilingual which indicates our clear commitment to providing services in both Welsh and English.”