Sandwell residents benefit from Council-funded advice services and debt support

Sandwell Council’s voluntary sector partners supported residents to get almost £12 million in benefits and grants they were entitled to in the last financial year, 2021/22.

Community-based advice services funded by the Council supported people to access benefits they were entitled to, totalling £11.8 million. And since April 2022 these services have enabled more than £5 million to be paid to residents.

Citizens Advice debt advice service, which is jointly funded by the Council and the Money and Pensions Service, delivered much needed support to indebted Sandwell residents by working with creditors to write off £1 million in client debt.

In 2021/22, 4,366 households presented to the Council as either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless seeking advice, information and support. Many of these people were supported before their circumstances escalated and others needed more help to prevent or relieve their homelessness. 

Over the same period, 790 families were supported through the children’s centres, helping them to get £1.1 million in benefits they were not aware they were entitled to. 

The Council has approved a further £3.2 million in grant funding to voluntary sector organisations to continue delivering high quality advice services and much needed budgeting support to residents from April 2023 to March 2026.

Over this period, the Council is investing a total of £2.1 million each year on integrated advice services for residents, with about half of that on the Council’s own Welfare Rights Service and the other on voluntary sector advice services.

The 3-year grants have been awarded to the following organisations:

  • Citizens Advice Sandwell (generalist open door, debt service and phone service): £585,728 pa
  • Citizens Advice Sandwell (homeless prevention project): £70,000 pa 
  • Citizens Advice Sandwell (Resilient Residents/ budgeting training): £25,260 pa
  • Sandwell Consortium (generalist open door): £240,305 pa
  • Sandwell Consortium (advice in children’s centres): £100,265 pa
  • Smethwick Pakistani Muslim Association (generalist open door): £31,458 pa
  • Brushstrokes (immigration advice): £32,719 pa

The funding will allow voluntary sector advice providers to retain skilled advisers and to continue to work effectively together with the Council’s Welfare Rights Service to deliver high quality services that respond flexibly to changes in need. 

In addition to the support delivered by voluntary sector organisations, during 2021/22 the Council’s Welfare Rights Service assisted 10,705 Sandwell residents to claim just over £18 million in additional welfare benefits, of which £4.5 million was paid as lump sum back pay directly into the pockets of residents.  Since April 2022 the service has supported 10,868 residents to claim over £16.2 million in benefits, of which £4.3 million was awarded as backpay.

Residents are facing increased hardship because of the cost of living crisis and the need for free, high quality, community-based benefits, debt and budgeting advice is more important than ever. All frontline workers are trained to integrate budgeting support into their work. 

The Council’s Supporting Sandwell information hubs bring together online information and support on benefits, employment and budgeting all in one place and are the “go-to” site for information about money saving.

To ensure high quality advice is delivered to residents, the Council’s welfare rights team provides quality assurance of welfare benefits work through audits of the work of each voluntary sector provider at least once a year and regularly briefs advice workers. Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, Leader of Sandwell Council, said:

“We have extended funding for voluntary sector advice providers for the next three years to deal with a range of challenges that we face now and over the coming years.

“These include the impact of the cost of living crisis, which is affecting everyone and putting many people in crisis, increasing numbers of people with no recourse to public funds, digital challenges, and complex cases of new comers with very poor language skills.

“The free advice services we fund help to improve the health and wellbeing of our residents and also tackle poverty and insecurity by preventing homelessness, increasing household income, dealing with problem debt, and reducing money worries.”

To access information about a wide range of consumer advice, including cost of living help, benefits advice, employment support, budgeting, and health and wellbeing, you can visit


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