NEARLY 10,000 people in the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Selby area appealed for help from the charity Citizens Advice last year.

It's a 13 per cent increase in the number of people calling for help on the previous year. Managers of the independent charity, which is 70 per cent run by volunteers, say benefit and tax credits were the main problems raised, representing just under a third of all queries in the 12 months up to the end of March 2017.

Residents came to the chairty with nearly 27,000 problems. Benefit and tax credits accounted for 7,696 queries, debt 6,902, financial services and capability 2,758, employment 2,369 and housing 1,552.

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They say the introduction of universal credit has created ongoing concerns, with up to six weeks waiting time before decisions are made, and there was also a high number of people, 832, with issues over Personal Independence Payments, extra money towards living expenses for people with disabilities and mental health problems.

Carol Shreeve, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Hambleton, Richmondshire and Selby, said:“We provide free, confidential and independent advice. Not only do we help people solve two out of three problems but our advice prevents issues getting worse, benefitting not just them but also their families and the wider community.

“With Personal Independence Payments, 65 per cent of the problems were around eligibility issues, and we helped by checking and filling in forms and offering support with appeals

"Sometimes a person has more than one problem, and often they are linked, which is why we tackle issues in the round making sure people get all of the support they need.”

“Anyone who has issues such as benefits, housing, employment or debt then Citizens Advice will help to find a solution,” she added.

The group operates from three main centres in Northallerton, Richmond and Selby but also organises outreach support in rural areas through ten local bases. The charity offers face to face drop in sessions where problems can be assessed before it's decided what the best next step should be. Home visits can be carried out for people who cannot get to the centres.

For information and advice online to to www.citizensadvicehrs.org.uk or telephone Adviceline on 03444 111 444and for Consumer Issues 03454 04 05 06.