Spotlight on council drop in centre cost

Rob GarrattThe cost of council drop-in centres in Breckland has been revealed in a new report that calculates the amount spent on every visit.Rob Garratt

The cost of council drop-in centres in Breckland has been revealed in a new report that calculates the amount spent on every visit.

Calling in at the customer service centre in Swaffham on a Thursday to discuss a bus pass costs the council �17.74, while a visit to the centre in Watton on a Friday works out at �28.78. A visit to the Attleborough centre on Monday is a comparatively cheaper �7.27.

'They are not cheap by any means,' said Breckland's executive member for wellbeing and customer contact Lady Kay Fisher. 'But we deal with the most vulnerable people in the community and the public have told us they appreciate the service in a large rural area.'

Breckland deputy leader Bill Smith said it was essential for the council to have face to face centres in market towns.

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The value for money figures have been calculated by dividing the total costs of Breckland's drop in centres by the number of visits.

More than 70pc of inquiries to the centres deal with housing and council tax benefit enquiries, with other visits dealing with enquiries on housing, bus passes and litter concerns.

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Lady Fisher said: 'Many of these people don't have access to the internet and there is quite a need and demand, and we must continue to meet that in a time of recession. We are coping with demand now but I think demand will increase.'

Breckland has drop-in services in each of its five market towns, with the established centres in Dereham and Thetford representing best value for money at �12.40 and �10.38 a visit respectively.

In the last year opening hours have been extended at three newer services, with Attleborough's centre attracting an average of 16 visits a day costing between �7.27 and �12.73 a time. Swaffham's centre proves more costly, attracting 13 visits a day at a cost of between �10.14 and �20.28, while the Watton centre, which only opens its doors twice a week, attracts an average of 14 visitors a day, costing the council �18.62 on a Wednesday and �28.78 on a Friday.

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