RESIDENTS living in Bury and Bolton will be able to access more support following the merger of the two boroughs’ Citizens’ Advice Bureaux.

The two CAB groups have joined to form one organisation, with the aim to provide a wider range of services in addition to the existing free debt, benefits and housing advice available.

Since December last year, the number of employees across both sites has almost doubled, following three successful tenders and the expansion of services.

Citizens Advice Bury and Bolton (CABB) will be accessed by residents in the same way and at the same locations.

CEO Richard Wilkinson, who first joined Citizens Advice as a volunteer in 1997 and was the chief officer of Bolton CAB from 2013 until May this year, said: “In my view, the organisation will be stronger as a result of this merger, particularly in terms of governance; we will have one trustee board and one governing body.

“One of the key drivers for the merger was enabling services that previously only took place in one location to be rolled out across both areas. Clients will be able to benefit from a greater range of services.”

Specialist support for people with housing problems, which was previously delivered solely in Bolton, will now also be available in Bury, for example. CABB staff will now support people in Bury who are at risk of eviction, or with high-level rent arrears, or in challenging council decisions after being told they do not qualify for housing.

Bolton and Bury CAB has also received government funding to help the 17,000 EU nationals who may face difficulties as a result of the EU Settlement Scheme, via which applications are made to continue living in the UK post-Brexit. A total of seven new members of staff have been brought on board to oversee this work.

In the financial year 2017/18, the two CAB groups collectively helped 16,000 people with 30,000 problems.

Bolton and Bury CAB were officially merged in April, however the amalgamation of services is still being outworked. There are now 75 paid staff working at CABB, with a further four roles being created. The team is supported by 60 volunteers.

Mr Wilkinson said: “This expansion is due to the success of three tenders, which will enable us to support EU nationals, as well as deliver specialist immigration advice and help people with universal credit.”

CABB also runs a dedicated telephone advice service, drop-in sessions, face-to-face appointments and home visits. The offices are located at St John’s House in The Rock, Bury, and in Mawdsley Street, Bolton.