Falkirk Council has received £334,489 from the Big Lottery Fund to help offset the impact of social welfare reforms.
At a meeting of Falkirk Council’s executive committee last week, members praised officers and CAB representatives for securing the funding from the lottery’s £10 million “Investing in Communities” initiative.
Council leader Craig Martin said: “No one can accuse this council of just sitting back and watching as the social welfare reforms come into our town. This funding is a tremendous opportunity for us to do even more.”
The council, working together with Falkirk Citizens Advice Bureau, developed a bid to fund a partnership between three local CAB offices which would create a service that provides a quick response approach to people in need of advice and assistance who have been directly impacted by sweeping welfare reforms.
Now the funding is in place, with a further £15,000 from the Fairer Falkirk Fund, the project will be able to place particular emphasis on rural areas and areas affected by deprivation.
Councillor Linda Gow said: “There are queues outside Citizens Advice Bureau offices waiting to see people and the full impact of the welfare reforms has yet to be felt. This funding is going to make a huge difference and is very welcome news.
“Congratulations to the officers who came up with the successful bid.”
According to the report, the aim of the project is to provide frontline face-to-face services across Falkirk.
It added: “Staff will offer advice on appeal rights, identify suitable cases for progression to appeal and prepare appeal paperwork. The project will provide an early screening service for those refused, to determine whether a decision to progress an appeal is the best solution.”
A steering group has been established to oversee the project implementation and includes representatives from the three CAB offices and members of the social work community advice team.
When it is up and running, the project will be staffed by a senior project officer, four welfare benefit officers and one admin officer who will be recruited as soon as possible. All posts will be employed by Falkirk CAB with the majority of appointments for the new service being organised locally. A search is currently going on for suitable low cost accommodation.