NORTH Ayrshire’s Citizen’s Service will close at the end of this month, the Herald can exclusively reveal.

In a statement, NACAS CEO Nina Smith confirmed that the charity would close with effect from the end of March.

The statement said: “Over recent years NACAS has worked to deliver a sustainable future and a service for the people of North Ayrshire.

“The Trustees are grateful to the volunteers and staff who have embraced changes and worked tirelessly to deliver the service.

“The charity has explored every opportunity and engaged with key stakeholders regarding all viable options over recent months however, despite considerable efforts, those discussions have been unsuccessful, NACAS have therefore concluded that they have no choice but to take the decision to close.

“This is a very sad time for the charity, who has been proud to serve North Ayrshire for almost 20 years. Together we have helped and supported 1000s of local citizens, provided advice, information, campaigned and fought to continue our important work.

“Our immediate concern is for the people of North Ayrshire and we will continue to support them during this final phase to provide the assistance they need.

“The charity would like to take this opportunity to thank the many staff, volunteers, clients and organisations that have worked with the service over the years.”

Politicians have hit out at the closure and hope that some sort of service will remain in place.

Kenneth Gibson MSP for CunninghameNorth said: “This is a sad day for North Ayrshire, its dedicated staff and volunteers, the clients and organisations that have worked with it over the years.

“The loss of the face to face service will hit the people of North Ayrshire hard as it provides vital support and advice to people in a whole variety of situations and the expertise and its high quality service will not be easy to replace or replicate.

“However, NACAS is still considering whether it can continue to maintain its hugely successful website, which increased overnight from 40 cases per week to over 200 when launched around six months ago.

"For the first time NACAS is reaching every community in North Ayrshire and all age groups equally and sees this as fulfilling its charitable objectives more effectively and efficiently.

"The difficulty is that NACAS needs to know the referral pathway for clients from the website from April 1 and would expect work to be taken forward by NACAS and the North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership to that end, in order to continue helping the people who rely so much on its services.”

Jamie Greene MSP said: “It’s unfortunate to hear that Citizens Advice has taken the decision to close doors in North Ayrshire. Over the last 20 years it has provided an invaluable service to the local community, helping thousands of citizens and I’d like to put on record my personal thanks to its staff and volunteers for their tireless commitment to North Ayrshire and its local community.

“I know this will not have been an easy decision to take and that Citizens Advice Scotland have experienced financial difficulties over the last couple of years.

“The challenge is now to ensure the closure is undertaken in a managed way. I’ll be writing to North Ayrshire Council to ask for their considerations on how the services this charity provided can be filled.”

North Ayrshire Council are keen to continue to help people in need.

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “We are deeply disappointed to learn that North Ayrshire Citizens’ Advice Service is to close, however, we are currently looking at options to ensure advice services remain available.

“We are committed to ensuring the people of North Ayrshire will continue to benefit from high quality, sustainable advice services and are currently exploring ways in which we can do this most effectively.

“We will also discuss the future of advice services in North Ayrshire when our Chief Executive, Elma Murray, meets with the new Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland later thismonth.

“In the meantime, we would ask people with welfare and debt issues to contact our Money Matters Team by calling 01294 310456, emailing or by calling at our offices in Bridgegate, Irvine.

“In addition, advice on benefits and money advice is available online at the Better Off North Ayrshire website uk/