Welcome to the winter edition of AdviceMatters

It has been a busy year for us all in the advice sector with very little prospect of any easement in workload. Indeed, if some of the predictions regarding the impact of Brexit occur, then things are likely to get more difficult for many of our already hard-pressed families and communities.
Combined with that we have the looming Welfare Reform Cliff Edge fast approaching in April which will be here before we know it and if measures are not taken as soon as possible then we face the prospect of many people facing real hardship. Our public services are in tatters and it does not appear likely that the new Conservative government will be willing to find additional finance to address these issues. Our only hope is that our MLAs can agree to get back up the hill and do the jobs we elected them to do. But even if that happens, money (and large sums of it) will be needed to properly fund our teetering public services – where does that come from when we cannot even find a paltry extra £25m to pay our health service staff the pay parity that they so deserve?

As a sector I know that we will respond by going the extra mile for people but there is only so much we can do without extra resources and we will continue to lobby government and others for further investment in the advice sector.

In January Advice NI will be consulting with all our members to develop our new strategic plan. A number of events are in planning and we want to ensure that the voices, needs and interest of our combined membership is fully engaged in this process as it will inform our priorities over the coming years. So do please engage so that your issues and those of your users can take centre stage.

On a more positive note work has finished on our new premises which will enable us to accommodate all Advice NI staff and volunteers under one roof. It will also provide the wider membership with modern, well-equipped training facilities and meeting spaces. We expect the move to be completed by the end of January. There might well be some disruption to phones and IT during this period but we are working hard to keep disruption to a minimum. Details of the new premises will be circulated in due course

Finally I want to thank all our members and staff for the tremendous work that you do day in, day out in helping people to resolve their issues and problems. This is vital work and you should all be proud of the contribution that you make in helping those who are often vulnerable and stressed.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all and don’t forget breathe and relax.

Bob Stronge
Advice NI CEO