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Somerset Liberal Democrats say they are celebrating a win for local residents in need of help after the County Council agreed a grant of £400,000 to fund Citizens’ Advice freephone ‘Somerset Advice Line’.

At the County Council’s yearly budget meeting this week, a proposal prepared by Lib Dem Deputy Leader Councillor Liz Leyshon to direct emergency Covid funding towards the freephone county-wide ‘Somerset Advice Line’ project was supported by every councillor present.

At the beginning of the pandemic, local charity Citizens Advice changed the way it operates, so the County’s residents could access advice and guidance by phone at no cost to themselves.

Special arrangements mean that wherever a call to the AdviceLine comes from in Somerset, it is directed to an available volunteer advisor.

Citizens Advice reports that expected demand for their services will rise hugely in Somerset over the next year as furlough ends, residents and businesses hit harder times and evictions re-commence.

After the vote, Amy Jones, Chief Executive of Sedgemoor Citizens Advice wrote to Liz saying: “Your support and commitment to our service is a little overwhelming. Along with colleagues, I will be working hard to ensure the success of this project for the benefit of our clients when they need us the most.”

Liz Leyshon, County Councillor for Glastonbury and Street said: “I met with Citizens Advice and heard about their project in Somerset, which has modest funding from the National Lottery and Somerset Community Foundation.”

“As face-to-face advice sessions stopped almost a year ago, but the number of people who desperately need advice and support is rising fast and will continue to do so, I wrote a proposal pressing Somerset County Council to fund the project using money allocated by Government to help during the Coronavirus pandemic.”

“I’m delighted this project funding has been endorsed by politicians of all parties and know that Somerset’s citizens will receive the support they deserve in these troubled times.”

If you live in Somerset and need help and support, please call the AdviceLine on 0808 27 87 842.

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