£4.4 million of Welsh Government money is on its way to frontline advice services which provide vital support to people in financial difficulty.
The grant funding for 2016-17 will enable Citizens Advice Cymru, Shelter Cymru, SNAP Cymru, Age Cymru and Tenovus to continue to offer free quality advice to help people repay debt, claim the welfare benefits they are entitled to, gain employment, overcome discrimination and resolve housing disputes.
Of the funding announced today, half will go towards Citizens Advice Cymru’s Better Advice, Better Lives project, which sees health practitioners signpost patients to CAB advisors for specialist support – in turn improving patients’ financial situation and wellbeing.
The continued investment will allow the organisations to build on the good work they have already achieved with Welsh Government support. Since the start of the programme, Better Advice, Better Lives has assisted over 72,700 people and secured over £66.5 million in benefit income, while to date the Front line Advice Services project has assisted over 67,500 people and secured more than £15 million in welfare benefits.
Front line advice services, including debt and benefit advice, are a key element of the Welsh Government’s work to promote financial inclusion. Today’s funding announcement comes as the Welsh Government launches its refreshed Financial Inclusion Strategy which sets out its vision for everyone in Wales to have access to the advice, services, and skills they need to manage their money well.
It includes commitments to ensure people are able to open a bank account, borrow money at a price they can afford, access clear financial information, and learn about managing money throughout their lives.
The Welsh Government is also continuing to support schools to teach children and young people about money, has asked Estyn to review how well the teaching and learning of financial education is progressing, and will work with Credit Unions to promote school savers clubs.
Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister, Lesley Griffiths, said: “When people are facing serious problems, such as ill health, debt, unemployment or housing issues, quality advice and support can provide a real lifeline.
“The £4.4m I have announced today will enable free advice services to continue to deliver much needed support to vulnerable people across Wales.
“This investment will help us achieve the aims of our Financial Inclusion Strategy, which sets out our vision for a Wales where everybody has access to the advice and skills they need to manage their money well. The new strategy both builds on the good work already achieved in Wales and reflects the challenges people are facing as a result of the UK Government’s austerity measures and welfare reform.”