THE work of Citizens Advice helping people with problems should be seen as a value by local authorities, not a cost – that was the message from the UK head of the charity when she paid a visit to Ceredigion Citizens Advice on Friday.

Dame Clare Moriarty met with staff, trustees and volunteers in Cardigan to hear how the local charity has been coping with the post pandemic challenges of the cost of living crisis and spiralling energy prices.

Ceredigion Citizens Advice is reliant on project funding and has no financial support for its core services.

“It is the core general advice services that is the beating heart of what we do,” said Dame Clare.

“Some local authorities really get the value of Citizens Advice. Some local authorities see it as a cost, but some see it as a value with early intervention reducing long-term costs.”

She added that Citizens Advice was the first stop for most people when they had a problem “What we end up doing is finding scraps of funding to keep that service going. It’s really difficult - it’s really hard to provide a service without more money.”

Ceredigion Citizens Advice provides advice to around 2,500 people a year – with numbers rising under the current cost of living crisis.

“It’s a big issue and something we have to address,” she said. “We can’t magic up local funding but we can make sure that we have a strong narrative – we have a really strong story to tell that our work really makes a difference.”

And Dame Clare said that having Citizens Advice in Ceredigion was vital for local people.

“Local is really important and it is the local roots of Citizens Advice that is critical.”

There are 265 independent local Citizens Advice across England and Wales, and Ceredigion CA chief executive Juliet Morris said it was a tremendous coup for the charity to have a visit from Dame Clare.

“Dame Clare's perspective on the strategic importance of our work locally was inspiring,” she said. “Expert advice can transform lives with a powerful ripple effect.

“It not only enables people to manage crunch points in their lives but brings new money into the local economy and pre-empts a full-blown crisis which reduces demand on local public services."

“It was also the perfect chance to put Ceredigion on Dame Clare’s map so that her campaigns work, influencing UK Government and energy bodies on behalf of Citizens Advice clients, includes the very particular needs of Ceredigion’s communities.”

• Dame Clare mentioned her visit to Ceredigion in an interview with BBC Radio 4 Today programme the following day.

She mentioned how rising fuel costs put pressure on already struggling clients and how it was a massive issue in rural areas. The interview is at 8.10am on the recording.