PEOPLE grappling with changes to the benefits system are being invited to take advantage of free and independent advice at venues across York.

The latest sessions at the Westfield Children’s Centre are in addition to other daily drop-in sessions in Clifton, Bell Farm, Acomb, Tang Hall, Foxwood and Chapelfields.

Set up by City of York Council and York Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), they aim to help people who may be struggling with personal finances due to the recession and forthcoming changes to benefit entitlements.

Since the launch of a Tang Hall advice hub in September, advisers have secured more than £21,000 of previously unclaimed benefits, and helped residents manage more than £42,000-worth of personal debt.

Peter Finlay, from the bureau, said: “With the changes to the benefit system beginning in April, times will be getting even tougher for some families, so it’s more important than ever that people understand their options and start to prepare.”

Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing said: “As pressures continue to grow on housing and benefits including the arrival of universal credit, it’s important for people to know what their choices are to help them with the decisions they must make.”

She said the housing and money advice sessions were held every day of the working week in areas where they were most needed.

The sessions are: Monday, at the Gateway Centre, Front Street, Acomb from 9am to 3pm; at Westfield Children’s Centre in Askham Lane, 1pm to 4pm from January 7.

Tuesday, Bell Farm Area Housing, including the CAB, at Bell Farm Community Centre, Roche Avenue, 9am to noon; and Tang Hall Area Housing, at the Children’s Centre, Sixth Avenue, from 9am to 1pm.

Wednesday, Acomb Area Housing and Housing and council tax benefits service, at Foxwood Community Centre in Cranfield Place, 9am to noon; and CAB at Clifton Children’s Centre in Kingsway North, 1pm to 4pm.

Thursday, Acomb Housing and council tax benefits service, at Sanderson Court Community House in Bramham Road, Chapelfields, from 9am to noon and Tang Hall Area Housing at the Children’s Centre in Sixth Avenue from 1pm to 4pm.

Tang Hall Housing, the CAB, Older Citizens Advocacy York (OCAY) and York Housing Association will be at Tang Hall Advice Hub from 10.30am to 1pm at Tang Hall Community Centre, Fifth Avenue.