Review of financial services

Councillors Robbie Payne and Marjory James hold the IRRV trophy. Picture by FRANK REID. IRN

Councillors Robbie Payne and Marjory James hold the IRRV trophy. Picture by FRANK REID. IRN

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PEOPLE are urged to give their views on the effectiveness of face-to-face financial advice and information services.

The issue is being examined by Hartlepool Borough Council’s scrutiny co-ordinating committee to see if services are meeting the needs of residents and whether they can be improved.

The study comes as the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in Hartlepool saw the largest monthly increase since January 2000.

Last month there was a rise of 281 people claiming the benefit, just weeks after Hartlepool Borough Council agreed to make 86 workers redundant as part of next year’s budget cuts.

Organisers say they are very keen for local people to go along and share their opinions and experiences at the meeting, which is being held on Friday at 10am in the Council Chamber at Hartlepool Civic Centre in Victoria Road.

Councillors on the forum will also be considering the results of a consultation which it has carried out among various providers of financial advice in the town, including Hartlepool Citizen’s Advice Bureau, West View Advice and Resource Centre and Connected Care.

It will also be hearing evidence from a range of other officials including Danielle Swainston, the council’s Sure Start, extended services and early years manager, and Linda Evans, the regional financial inclusion champion.

Councillor Marjorie James, chairman of the forum, said: “Effective face-to-face advice and information services have a key role to play in helping residents to make the best financial decisions, particularly in the current challenging economic climate.

“It’s vital therefore that as many local people as possible come along to Friday’s meeting and give us the benefit of their experience.

“In particular – how easy did they find it to access the services, how much did it help them and could anything have been done better?”

For more information about the work of the council’s scrutiny forums, contact scrutiny manager Joan Stevens on (01429) 284142 or log onto www.hartlepoolmail and select the link at the bottom of this story.