THE merger of two services to help people affected by low income and debt has resulted in people in East Dunbartonshire gaining more than £3.5million in benefits over the last year.

Two years ago, the council’s Welfare Rights Service and Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) merged to enable locals to access financial advice services under one roof.

Together, they have helped some of the poorest in our communities access millions in benefits.

Councillor Michael O’Donnell, East Dunbartonshire’s Social Work convener, said: “At the heart of both services is the promotion of the welfare and financial benefits to some of the area’s most disadvantaged people, so the £3.5m in benefits that has been generated is fantastic news.

“As well as the financial gain, the ‘one-stop-shop’ approach of combining both services has also enabled local people to benefit from a more holistic service so if a person comes in looking for help with a benefits claim they also can receive information and money advice. The valuable partnership also saves the council £170,000 each year in management and rental costs alone which, in the current economic climate, is welcome news indeed.”

Catherine Bradley, manager of East Dunbartonshire CAB, said: “In the last year, the merged services dealt with almost 7,000 benefits enquiries so it’s clear we are doing incredibly important work which makes a real difference to the quality of life of our customers.

“The benefits of working in partnership will become even more important because changes to the welfare system will mean more people will need help with benefits and money advice. Anyone requiring this type of help and assistance should not hesitate to contact us.”

The merged service can be contacted at 11 Alexandra Street, Kirkintilloch, call 775 3220 or e-mail