Post by Colin Henderson on Apr 18, 2012 11:40:38 GMT
Here we go again. It's that familiar tale of two advice agencies who were previously both council-funded engaging in a battle to the death. This from the Hartlepool Mail:
"A VITAL advice service that helps at least 7,500 people in Hartlepool each year could close after it failed to win a council contract. Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), in Park Road, Hartlepool, is facing an uncertain future after its bid for £206,000 from Hartlepool Borough Council proved unsuccessful for the first time in its 73-year history.
The council for the first time tendered for groups to provide a financial advice and support service and it was won by West View Advice and Resource Centre. Bureau chiefs say the cash was aimed to provide “core funding” that pays for vital running costs like staff, bills and providing key financial services like welfare, benefits and debt advice, money management, employment law and housing and homelessness advice. But bosses say losing the cash leaves the service’s future in jeopardy and could see further services like consumer advice and housing and tenancy support services lost.
A meeting has been set up for April 23 when the bureau’s trust board will decide if it will close, or whether to look to struggle on with reduced services or try to merge with another service. If the lifeline service has to be wound down then 12 paid jobs will be lost, and 28 volunteers will have to go.
Today, Joe Michna, manager of the bureau – which saw over 22,000 clients making contact last year – described the news as “devastating”. He said: “This is a devastating blow for the Hartlepool CAB as we relied on Hartlepool Borough Council for what we call our core funding, that is the funding, or rather the glue, that holds the hold organisation together. It pays for our central costs such as gas, electricity, water, key staff salaries, stationery, postage and such like. The irony is that the bureau has never been busier in its 73-year history of serving the residents of the town. On average, we deal with 45 completely new inquiries a day, plus all the ongoing inquiries and client cases we are already involved with.”
Council chiefs say they decided to tender for the grant for the first time due to government cuts and asked groups what they would charge to provide financial advice and support services. Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “Government spending cuts have had a major impact on the council and we are no longer in a position to simply hand out grants to organisations. By commissioning a clearly-defined service, we are seeking to ensure that what money is available to us is used in the best possible way to meet the most pressing needs of local people. We invited tenders for the provision of a financial advice and support service and received two bids. Unfortunately, Hartlepool CAB was unsuccessful and a contract for the 2012-13 financial year was awarded to the West View Advice and Resource Centre. I can understand Hartlepool CAB’s disappointment. But it is important to stress that a financial advice and support service will continue to be provided to local people.”
The West View Advice and Resource Centre is based in the Community Centre, in Miers Avenue, but will be providing the outreach service at children’s centres and other venues across town. Centre manager Val Evens said: “We are delighted to win the contract but not to the detriment of the Citizens Advice Bureau. We do hope to be able to do some partnership work with them in the future.”
It's worth reading the comments in the above link on this one. One local reader states that WVARC will employ only three staff whereas 12 staff and 28 volunteers are now likely to lose their jobs at the CAB. Anyone with local knowledge please do comment.
Post by Colin Henderson on May 3, 2012 18:28:59 GMT
More on the CAB's troubles - but they are going to try and limp on:
"An advice service has been forced to slash the number of services available to customers in a bid to maintain a presence in Hartlepool. The future of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) was left hanging in the balance after Hartlepool Borough Council funding cuts left it on the brink of closure, as previously reported in the Mail.
For the first time in 73 years, the CAB was not granted any financial assistance by Hartlepool Borough Council. The board of the CAB which operates from a base in Park Road, held an emergency meeting on Monday to thrash out proposals to keep the service afloat and while it was decided against closing the facility down, several sections will either be stopped or scaled down.
The number of drop-in sessions has been reduced from 10 to six, with none at all available on a Tuesday or Thursday, and that figure could be reduced further if staff struggle to cope with demand. Bosses had previously decided to stop providing a telephone advice service for residents and also will no longer respond to email enquiries for advice and assistance. It was also agreed to scrap any Saturday appointments for clients.
Staff at the bureau will also be referring more clients to the West View Advice and Resource Centre, which was successful in winning the council’s tender bid for advice services in Hartlepool. The situation will be reviewed on a two-monthly basis."
Post by Colin Henderson on Jan 3, 2013 10:33:51 GMT
An update piece in the local press recently confirmed the loss of local authority funding cost Hartlepool CAB half its paid staff, but doesn't say how many more will go in March (according to their website they still have their LSC contract):
"Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau looked back on a “very difficult year” after it was threatened with closure. The advice centre in Park Road was facing an uncertain future after a bid for £206,000 of funding from Hartlepool Borough Council was unsuccessful for the first time in its 73-year history.
The bureau has been forced to slash its paid workforce from 22 to 11 staff because of financial cutbacks in the last two years. But manager Joe Michna says their services are still in high demand particularly as people seek advice and help with debts, benefits, work law and accommodation. He thanked people for their support over the last year said they are hoping for a better year ahead.
Mr Michna said: “2011 was a difficult year for the bureau but 2012 has just been downright tough. We have had to make some very difficult decisions regarding staff redundancies and the services that we could still provide for local residents but we have survived and we have been hugely encouraged and lifted by the support and good wishes of Hartlepool residents. I would wish to express the sincere thanks and appreciation of all staff, paid and voluntary as well as the Trustee Board for the support that we have received from local residents.”