Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Local branch of Citizens Advice allays fears as charity’s HQ enters administration

 The Newry Mourne & Down office of Citizens Advice NI has moved to allay fears that the facility will close following the announcement that the charity’s regional headquarters in Belfast has gone into administration.

Substantial debts have forced the charity into administration after the Citizens Advice in England and Wales declined to take over administrative and training responsibilities for the body’s 28 remaining offices in the north.  The charity’s Belfast office, which provided IT, training and administrative support for 13 independently run bureaux, went into administration in June.

In a statement, the Newry Mourne and Down branch said it had been hoped that Citizens Advice England & Wales, along with the Department for Communities (DfC), could have found a solution “in the hope that the brand would remain”.   However, Citizens Advice England and Wales revealed that despite lengthy discussions with the DfC, it is unable to take on” the membership role previously fulfilled by Citizens Advice Northern Ireland”.

A DfC spokesman said the demise of the Citizens Advice brand was “regrettable” but it was working with the charity’s staff to ensure there is no disruption to its services.

Meanwhile, Rosemarie McDonnell, manager of the local Newry Mourne & Down branch of Citizens Advice moved to allay fears that the facility would close and pointed out that it operates independently from the charity’s HQ.

The local advice bureau is to remain in operation but from the beginning of next year, will be known as Community Advice Newry Mourne & Down.

The branch’s statement read: “The Trustee Board for Citizens Advice Newry Mourne & Down would like to reassure everyone who needs our advice and support that we are open for business as usual. 

“We receive our funding from the Department for Communities through our local Council and this will continue allowing us to provide a quality service to all citizens in the district.”

Ms McDonnell says she “wants to make it clear” that the debts incurred by the Regional Office of Citizens Advice “had absolutely nothing to do” with the Newry Mourne and Down office “as each local office is an Independent Charity responsible for their own finances”. 

“Citizens Advice Newry Mourne & Down is financially secure and will continue to offer high quality services throughout the District. I have been working very closely with my own Trustee Board and other local Citizens Advice Managers to ensure the smooth and consistent delivery of excellent advice services to the public that Citizens Advice are recognised for and will continue to do,” she said.