West Sussex residents can continue to access free independent support after the county’s community advice service was recommissioned.

West Sussex County Council’s Public Health service commissions Citizens Advice West Sussex to provide support to residents on matters ranging from the cost of living to family relationships.

The County Council jointly funds the service, in partnership with the seven district and borough councils across West Sussex.

In the last year West Sussex Citizens Advice partners helped 46,613 people with advice on 136,000 problems, 12% more than last year. Helping residents to unlock nearly £13 million in unclaimed benefit, compensation and grants. The charity delivers from over 20 community locations as well as phones and digital, taking 41,460 advice calls and answering 26,138 emails.

This was made possible by a team of 250 volunteers who gave more than 2,000 hours of their time to help the local community.

Councillor Bob Lanzer, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “I’m extremely pleased that we have been able to recommission the service at a time when many people are faced with challenges in their lives, whether financial or personal.

“West Sussex is a large and diverse county and the partnership with Citizens Advice in West Sussex has been designed to reflect local needs. It will provide flexible and locally delivered support to help residents access advice on a range of topics. These include housing, benefits, debt and money, manage existing crises in their lives, avoid those potentially in the future, and improve their wellbeing.

“This important service will help us deliver on the commitments we made in Our Council Plan, to keep people in West Sussex safe from vulnerable situations and to help people and our communities fulfil their potential.”

Emma Cross, CEO of Citizens Advice in West Sussex, said: “We welcome the continued support from West Sussex County Council and the seven district and boroughs to deliver much needed advice and help to West Sussex residents, in partnership with Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice, at a time when rising costs of living are affecting many.

“Every year, thousands of people come to us for help, from money worries to homelessness to domestic abuse. With this support, we can be there when needed. As a local charity we depend on fundraising and volunteering to support our residents, more people are coming to us for help.  This contract will allow us to recruit more volunteers, expand our channels and work with other charities, so we can be there for our communities when they need us.”

Citizens Advice in West Sussex has offices across the county for face-to-face meetings with advisors, as well as appointments by phone or online. As part of the contract, Citizens Advice in West Sussex has partnered with Arun & Chichester Citizens Advice which will provide support to people in those respective districts.