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Job fears top Dereham CAB inquiries

PUBLISHED: 11:57 19 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:03 07 July 2010

REDUNDANCIES and the threat to jobs in the Dereham area have led to significant increases in inquiries at the town's Citizens Advice Bureau.

In the last six months inquiries from the public regarding employment issues have risen by 12pc across

four Norfolk branches, and it is predicted by CAB bosses that the situation will become worse as the economic downturn gathers speed.

REDUNDANCIES and the threat to jobs in the Dereham area have led to significant increases in inquiries at the town's Citizens Advice Bureau.

In the last six months inquiries from the public regarding employment issues have risen by 12pc across

four Norfolk branches, and it is predicted by CAB bosses that the situation will become worse as the economic downturn gathers speed.

And now some CAB branches in Norfolk are increasing their opening hours to deal with the increased number of inquiries.

But this week Dereham area CAB manager Mandy Lewis stressed that free, independent help and advice was available and that people did not have to suffer in silence.

“I think the main thing that people need to be aware of is that if they come to us our service is free and confidential and we can try to show them there are various avenues

they can investigate,” she said.

Mrs Lewis, who also runs the Watton, Holt and Swaffham branches, said that the threat or real loss of a job had a knock-on effect for other areas of people's lives, including the potential loss of their home and the effects on their personal relationships.

“We do stress to the public that if they are worried about their jobs or their mortgage repayments do come and talk to one of our advisers because there is help and advice available and it's a free and confidential service offered by trained volunteers,” she said.

And last night the Department for Work and Pensions said that despite rises in unemployment, there are still plenty of jobs available.

Jobcentre Plus takes over 10,000 new vacancies every working day and others can be found with recruitment agencies and in newspapers. The Department stresses that there are still 600,000 vacancies in the UK at any one time.

The Department also stresses that Jobcentre Plus offers a wide range of help for people looking for work and people can search Britain's largest database of jobs at www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk. The National Debtline 0808 808 4000 provides free, confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt and financial problems or visit www.nationaldebtline.co.uk

A DWP spokesman told The Times : “Dereham and Fakenham Jobcentre Plus have a variety of vacancies on offer, ranging from assemblers, classroom assistants and pastry chefs to night duty manager and sales persons”.

People can access these vacancies by using Jobpoints in the Jobcentres, visiting the website or ringing the jobs hotline Jobseeker Direct on 0845 60 60 234.

An Integrated Employment and Skills pilot scheme has been introduced in Norfolk offering people “skills health checks”. Advisers help people understand what vacancies they should consider applying for by looking at their existing skills.

Further help is offered at job fairs being staged in Dereham on March 6 and on April 1 at Watton.

Citizen Advice Bureaux across East Anglia are increasing their opening hours to deal with the large increase in inquiries resulting from the economic downturn.

The CABs have seen sharp rises in people seeking advice on redundancy, benefits and mortgage and secured loans arrears.

Last year, between April 2007 and March 2008, the CABs nationally dealt with 5.54 million issues overall and fears this number will increase as more people lose their jobs, get further into debt and risk losing their homes.

The national CAB network currently deals with 450 new cases involving mortgage arrears and 475 new redundancy inquiries every working day.

A number of CABs in Norfolk and North Suffolk are among 340 benefitting from a government £10m funding boost to allow them to increase their opening hours.

The branches are at Dereham, Holt and Watton, North Walsham, Fakenham, Mildenhall and Brandon , Diss and Thetford and Lowestoft.

The Dereham CAB is in the town's Assembly Rooms and is now open additionally on Tuesday from 1 pm to 3pm and from 5pm to 7pm. Opening times of other CAB offices in other parts of Norfolk may vary.

For more information about the CAB service nationally go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk

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