Citizens Advice are a trusted and well respected source of information and advice for people up and down the country. I recently attended their drop in session in Parliament to be taken on a ward-by-ward virtual tour of Stoke-on-Trent Central and shown the problems people living in the area are getting help for at Citizens Advice.
The maps - called Constituency Dashboards - also revealed the spread of issues facing different types of people in Stoke-on-Trent such as disabled people, younger constituents and minorities. According to evidence from the charity, Citizens Advice helps to solve two in three people’s problems, reducing the number of people who turn to public services for support on welfare, health and housing issues. For every £1 invested in the Citizens Advice service government and public services save £2, amounting to £420 million last year.
Citizens Advice works on the frontline to help people with a huge variety of important issues, which means they are well-placed to identify the problems residents are facing. I’m always keen to find new and inventive ways of staying informed about the concerns of my constituents. These dashboards are illuminating and the data they contain provide strong evidence on which to act.
Most importantly, when they highlight a change in policy is having a detrimental effect on the lives of ordinary people the government should listen and take note. Too many times, organisations like the CAB have been telling us about the suffering of individuals affected by government policies and the government have been deaf to their concerns.