EXTRA staff and volunteers have been drafted in to help cope with an expected 25 per cent increase in the number of enquires Solihull Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) will take following a radical overhaul of the benefit system.
Borough residents will see a change in what benefits they receive over the course of this month, including changes to housing and disability benefits, the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’ and changes to tax credits.
Kerry Turner, chief executive of Citizens Advice Solihull, said over 40 extra staff have been employed and the three CAB centres across the borough will be opening for longer to cope with the expected influx of calls.
“We felt we needed to extend our services,” said Ms Turner.
“I would estimate we will probably deal with around 8,000 enquires in the next year relating to these changes. April is going to be a busy month.”
She said staff and volunteers have received extra training to deal with the range of questions the service is expecting to receive. The CAB has also been working closely with Solihull Council and Solihull Community Housing (SCH), to help deal with issues like the bedroom tax, which will see housing benefits slashed for families deemed to have too much living space.
Council tax changes were also introduced this week, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will be replaced by personal independence payment from Monday (April 8) and the introduction of a cap on the total benefits working-age people will receive starts on April 15.
The CAB is looking for more volunteers to help. If you can be of assistance call 0121 779 6707.
l Will you be affected by the benefit changes? Tell us your story. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0121 2345386.