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Catch the 'benefits bus' this August

Help is on hand to people who may be feeling the effects of the rising cost of living and the impact of welfare reform.

Cabinet Member for Leisure and Communities Councillor Elias Mattu and Cabinet Member for Resources Councillor Andrew Johnson with one of the new advice leaflets
The benefits bus

Wolverhampton City Council, the Citizens' Advice Bureau (CAB) and other agencies will be offering support, information and advice to the city's neighbourhoods from Monday 19 August, 2013, via the 'benefits bus'.

The specially-adapted double decker will be visiting 16 locations across the city from 19 August to Thursday 29 August, 2013, helping local people check out their entitlements, prepare for changes, manage their money, avoid expensive borrowing - and find a job. It is the latest initiative from Wolverhampton's Welfare Reform Benefits Helpline and Response Team, a joint initiative by the council and CAB.

DateLocation AM
9.30am to 1pm
Location PM
2pm to 5pm
Tuesday 13 AugustQueen Square, Wolverhampton City Centre, WV1 1TX 
Monday 19 August

Whitmore Reans Library, Bargate Drive, Whitmore Reans, WV6 0QW

Police Station, Staveley House, Great Hampton Street, Dunstall Hill, WV1 4AX (opposite Asia Restaurant)

Tuesday 20 AugustShowell Circus, WV10 9BAShowell Circus, WV10 9BA
Wednesday 21 AugustAsda, Crossways Shopping Centre, Heath Town, WV10 0QZAsda, Crossways Shopping Centre, Heath Town, WV10 0QZ
Thursday 22 August Parkfield Stores, Rooker Avenue, WV2 2DTBradley Community Centre, Lord Street, WV14 8SD
Friday 23 AugustBilston Town Centre, Near the Market, Wood Street, WV14 0BQ (Off Church/High Street)Lunt Community Centre, Lunt Rd, Bilston, West Midlands WV14 7HF
Tuesday 27 August

Royal Oak Pub, Vaughan Rd, Willenhall WV13 3TJ

Green Lanes, rear of ex Wolverhampton Homes office, Middleway Green, WV14 6DJ (near One Stop Shop, Off Middleway Road)
Wednesday 28 August Brooklands Health Centre, Brooklands Parade, Wolverhampton, West Midlands WV1 2ND Mini Market, Hollington Rd, Wolverhampton, West Midlands WV1 2DR - opposite East Park Primary School
Thursday 29 AugustFamily Shopper, Collingwood Rd, Wolverhampton WV10 8DX

Temple Baptist Church, 30 Three Tuns Lane, Oxley, WV10 6BD

If you are not able to 'catch the bus' in your area then please come along to the Mander Centre (ground floor, next to British Home Stores) on Friday 30 August where for this date only all the advisers from the bus will be present to provide help and advice with welfare reform and benefits.

The changes are starting to have a significant impact on Wolverhampton - not only on the unemployed but also on working residents currently receiving certain benefits like Tax Credits and Disability Living Allowance. The highest number of enquiries to the city's Welfare Reform Benefits Helpline which has been running since April is from disabled people. Wolverhampton has one of the highest rates in the country of previous Employment and Support Allowance claimants being assessed fit for work.

A substantial proportion of council and social housing tenants affected by the under occupation penalty - known as the 'bedroom tax' - have fallen into arrears with their rent. A small number are at risk of losing their homes. 

Overall, it is estimated that, in real terms, benefit payments to people in Wolverhampton will have dropped by £34.4 million by 2016.

Launching the tour of some of the Wolverhampton's hardest-hit communities, Cabinet Member for Resources, Councillor Andrew Johnson said: "The combined effects of welfare reform and the rising cost of living are seriously impacting upon people, many of whom are already burdened with large debts.

"With the tough times here to stay for some considerable time, it's our duty as a city council to help households deal with the crisis many of them face by giving them the best advice and information.

"By joining forces with key agencies in the city, we aim to reduce the impact of the changes on families, help people manage their money and assist more of them into work."

Among the organisations fielding their experts on the bus are Wolverhampton Citizens' Advice Bureau, Wolverhampton Credit Union and Job Change 2007.

The city's Citizens' Advice Bureau Chief Operating Officer Jeremy Vanes said: "The recent changes to benefits affect a surprisingly large number of Wolverhampton people, and the high rate of local unemployment means there is a big risk of many local households slipping into greater debt this summer.

"We therefore encourage people to take the opportunity to check the facts about benefits changes, keep on top of their household finances, understand the risks of using high interest credit and to seek advice whenever things seem problematic. All the advice is free from staff on the bus - so it is a wonderful way to jump on board and get several questions answered quickly."

Council welfare rights staff have joined forces with the CAB to run a helpline which is open on weekdays from 9am to 5pm on 01902 572006. 

  • released: Tuesday 13 August, 2013