THERE has been a nine per cent increase in the number of new enquiries being dealt with by the Barnsley Citizens' Advice Bureau.

Figures released by the service for 2012/13 show it dealt with 20,888 people which chief executive Pat Heath said is a 'positive position' compared to the previous year.

The statistics show the number of individual clients seen was up by 21 per cent, and there was a 50 per cent rise in telephone contacts.

To April 2013, compared to the previous year, the service has seen the following increases: a 28 per cent rise in benefits queries (2779); a 25 per cent surge in employment queries (1021); 15 per cent in housing queries (764); and a one per cent increase in debt related queries (9423).

Mr Heath said: "The sad thing is it's a reflection of the situation facing many people in Barnsley in terms of increasing numbers of people in a difficult position.

"There are many people faced with an almost impossible situation due to the squeeze on incomes. People are having to choose between paying housing costs and putting food on the table.

"It is unlikely to improve for many people any time soon.

"The volunteers do sterling work in very difficult circumstances because sometimes people who come in are distressed and the way our advisors respond to that, and the professionalism they display, with no judgement and a strong focus on trying to help individuals overcome the problems they have got, is commendable."