Heanor welfare advice centre shuts after county council funding cut

Colin Hampton of the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers' Centres hopes the service will return to Heanor in future.
Colin Hampton of the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers' Centres hopes the service will return to Heanor in future.

A welfare support charity has suspended activities in the Heanor area following a £92,000 funding cut from Derbyshire County Council.

Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centres (DUWC) will cease operating its weekly advice centre at Salcare on Ray Street after the council decided to not renew its grants.

DUWC spokesman Colin Hampton said: “The trustees have been presented with difficult choices given the withdrawal of DCC funding and nothing coming from Amber Valley Borough Council.

“Heanor and Loscoe Town Council have been very supportive and given us a small grant but this does not cover the work we do in the borough that often involves the Derby and Nottingham courts.”

The service has operated in Heanor since 1993, in which time staff have helped countless local residents challenge the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over issues with benefits, tax credits and care allowances.

DUWC says the result has brought hundreds of thousands of pounds into the local economy, often going to the most in-need and vulnerable members of the community.

The service operates throughout former coalfield areas of Derbyshire, and has seen demand rising recently due to the troubled roll-out of the Universal Credit system.

Colin said: “Since the decision to cut funding, DUWC has received letters of support from cancer charities, Armed Forces charities, community organisations and disability groups who are all reliant on DUWC to help their members navigate the benefit system.”

In previous years, the charity had received grants of £50,000 from the council’s public health budget, and £41,769 towards core costs. Both will cease on March 31.

Announcing the decision last month, a council spokesman said: “We acknowledge the importance of this work and continue to invest more than £4million in advice and financial inclusion across the county, including Citizens Advice in GP surgeries, children’s centres and other venues.

“We will be offering a wide range of welfare, financial and other advice services at new wellness hubs from April.”

Colin is also hopeful that events later in the year could see DUWC services resume: “The suspension of services is pending the borough council elections in May, and the possibility of renewed local authority support.

“We will try our best to carry on helping where we can in the hope that these decisions can be reversed.”