AN MP stressed the important of face-to-face services in a digital age during a visit to an advice session.

Kevan Jones MP raised the issue while speaking at the first of a series of free advice days for County Durham residents.

Organised by social landlord Karbon Homes, the event at the Café at The Elms Extra Care scheme in Chester-le-Street provided local residents with information on health, housing, benefits, debt, employment, fuel and Universal Credit.

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Mr Jones said: “The biggest concern I’m hearing about currently from constituents is Universal Credit and the difficulties that people sometimes have accessing direct advice, because of the increasing reliance on IT.

“Many people find it difficult to use computers and the internet or even to access IT.

“Initiatives like this one mean people can access face to face advice, if they choose”.

He added: “It’s something I’ve raised in Parliament, because increasingly services are being provided online, but some people can’t access the web – or when they do have access, they don’t know how to use it.”

Della Gisby, 51, from Pelton Fell, attended the advice day to sign up for an account with Prince Bishops Community Bank.

She said: “I work in customer service, on check outs in a supermarket, and some people just don’t want to use the self scan tills.

“In this age of technology, people really value some human interaction. I prefer talking to someone face to face too.”

The next advice day will take place on Tuesday, at East Durham Trust’s Community House in Peterlee, followed by Newton Aycliffe, Durham, Stanley and Bishop Auckland.