BENEFITS and tax credits were by far the biggest issue for Citizens Advice Bureau clients in the last financial year.
Staff and volunteers celebrated the 75th anniversary of the free advice service at an annual conference, where details of recent support were revealed.
Central and South Sussex CAB, which has eight advice centres, including Worthing, Shoreham, Lancing and Horsham, helped almost 25,000 people in the year up to April 2014, and advised them on more than 42,000 problems.
Changes to the welfare benefits system were a key issue for people seeking help during the year, but advice on debt, housing and employment also featured heavily.
John Rutherford, chairman of Central and South Sussex CAB, said: “Citizens advice services in West Sussex are just as vital today as they were 75 years ago.
“We’re enormously proud of our heritage, and it’s clear from the problems our clients tell us about on a daily basis that we will continue to be needed far into the future.”
He said the conference, held at The Martlets Hall, Burgess Hill, on November 6, was an opportunity to say a huge thank you to the volunteers and staff, to emphasise the importance of what they do and to demonstrate to the funders how necessary it would be to continue providing support.
More than 120 CAB staff, volunteers and guests gathered to celebrate the anniversary and look forward to the future.
Presentations and break-out sessions focused on how the charity supports and helps people, as well as highlighting the need for funding in the current challenging environment.
Opening the conference, Burgess Hill mayor Anne Jones said: “It’s the volunteers who have made this organisation so important in so many people’s lives. We all owe you a great deal for the time and effort you have all put in so diligently.”
Guest speakers Polly Billington and Kierra Box, from the national campaigns team, spoke passionately about their work. The used the payday loans campaign’s recent success to highlight the huge difference that research and evidence, gathered from CAB clients’ stories on unfair practices, could make, both locally and nationally.