Post by Colin Henderson on Mar 22, 2016 11:57:51 GMT
To be part of the Citizens Advice network you must have 3 months outgoings in reserves in the bank. The perpetual cuts mean many CABs go close to that limit and because Liverpool Central have been under it with no signs of improvement their membership has been withdrawn:
Liverpool city centre’s Citizens Advice Bureau is being stripped of its membership of the charity network over fears about its financial security. The Liverpool Central CAB, which helps thousands of vulnerable people every year, has fallen foul of strict rules over funding reserves. But bosses at the charity have vowed to continue the centre’s work despite the blow, declaring the Cook Street service “defiantly open”. National rules state CAB branches must have three months’ running costs in the bank. Yet Liverpool Central CAB, which costs £55,000 a month to run, now has just £8,000 in reserves after suffering massive funding cuts.
Responding to the decision to strip the centre of its CAB membership, vice-chairman Gerald Rivett said the Liverpool Central CAB will change its name to Liverpool Community Advice and remain open. He said: “We remain defiantly open for business. We will still be dispensing advice free of charge to people in need.”
There are 800 CAB branches across the country, including seven in Liverpool. The Liverpool Central CAB lost more than half its council funding last year and the rent on its offices went up by 50%.
Mr Rivett said: “We put forward a recovery plan, but the CAB nationally said this was not correct and our financial position did not meet their terms and conditions. So their decision is to remove our membership approximately at the end of this month. We are not insolvent. We know our financial position and we hope to retain our funders and continue operating.” Mr Rivett said the Liverpool Central CAB’s 24 paid staff and army of volunteers will not lose their posts.
In a statement, the national Citizens Advice charity said: “All members of the Citizens Advice network are required to meet certain standards, including being financially secure. “Citizens Advice first raised concerns about the financial sustainability of Liverpool Central in 2014 and we have been working with them to try to improve their financial situation so they can continue to provide a service. On Wednesday, the trustee board concluded that the necessary progress had not been made to guarantee Liverpool Central’s financial security and took the difficult decision to terminate their Citizens Advice membership.”
There is some more background to the local authority cuts that caused these dire straits in a press report from December:
Liverpool's busiest Citizens Advice Bureau needs to raise more than £15,000 before Christmas to secure its future. The central CAB, based on Cook Street, has seen its Government grant funding, issued through Liverpool City Council, cut by 52% this year. Next year’s funding round has not yet been set, but council bosses said this was certain to be less than this year’s.
Vice chairman Gerald Rivett said the organisation’s staff have turned down a pay increase and some have been working reduced hours in a bid to keep the service going. He told the ECHO: “The grant which comes through the council from central Government has always been our biggest grant, although we do get some grants from other organisations. This year we had a double pincer movement because we had a rent review which meant our rent went up 50% and the grant went down 52%. We were able to negate the rent increase completely by renting some of our office space to a third party, but there’s not a lot you can do about a 52% drop in council funding. That gets worse in April next year when it goes down to absolutely nothing.”
Still, every cloud. Perhaps freedom from the CitA empire and its re-orientation away from poverty issues will enable the brave bunch in central Liverpool to do advice and representation differently. Best of luck to them.
Post by Colin Henderson on Apr 30, 2016 10:19:53 GMT
On the back of this week's sad news from Minneapolis, I've heard rumours that the advice centre formerly known as Liverpool CAB has expired, but they seem to be exaggerated.
Here is the blurb from the new website of Liverpool Community Advice: Liverpool Community Advice can trace a history dating back to 1939 when the present organisation opened as a Citizens Advice Bureau in the City Centre and therefore can demonstrate a vast experience and numerous success stories in that time. In April 2016 we seamlessly transformed ourselves into LCA Liverpool Community Advice with the same staff in the same location offering the same services on a personal and confidential basis. As an independent charitable organisation we can maintain our close contact with clients with that personal local emphasis rather than being simply a branch of a national organisation remote from the real needs of Liverpool and Merseyside.
LCA aims to develop new services as the needs present themselves whilst maintaining the one to one personal touch either by telephone or face to face at the office. We will always explore the opportunities presented by the advance of technology and social networks but will not take a step backwards to remote Call Centres outside the Liverpool area.
LCA promises to deliver a proven traditional local personal help and advice service with a modern twist remaining free at the point of need for clients. We achieve this through a professional and dedicated team of staff and volunteers with vast experience.
LCA remains a free personal local help and advice service dedicated to and for the citizens of Liverpool and Merseyside.
Our sole purpose is to meet the needs of people and through personal advice point the way to resolving issues, settling arguments, dealing with debts, sorting out relationships, in fact anything for which people need help and support. LCA achieves this by listening, helping to identify issues needing immediate attention and signposting for those which need time and on-going support. LCA is not always the right Agency to resolve all problems, but we will put people in touch with those who can. Throughout our work we are seeking to provide the help people need, so whatever the problem, we can confidently say that whatever the need LIVERPOOL COMMUNITY ADVICE WILL MEET THEM.
In order to clarify the situation regarding the former Liverpool Central CAB we are delighted to report that on 11th. May 2016 our new organisation LCA Liverpool Community Advice was formally opened by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool at a special ceremony attended by key figures from the Liverpool business and charity communities.
LCA has retained its city centre office and key staff providing vital help and advice on Debt, Housing, Welfare Rights and General Services. The Lord Mayor pointed out that this was so important as CAB services in the city have virtually ceased since LCA reformed. LCA will now offer its client services across the whole of the Liverpool area which was a previous restriction under the CAB. Working with Industry and Local Authority LCA is looking at opening new offices in Retail areas and Libraries - Health Centres where there are high footfalls.
Freed from the restrictive controls of CAB policy this lateral thinking on meeting public demands extends to exposing the real effects of current Government policy to the citizens of Liverpool. In the past the real stories were suppressed for fear of effecting a negative reaction from the CAB due to its high Westminster funding. Easier targets were Landlords, Payday Loan Companies and more recently Telecoms which supported the Government attacks on these sectors. The real poverty issues have not had the exposure they merit from CAB media releases.
In a world where other Bureaux are facing closure and suppression by CAB the move by LCA may act as a catalyst for change in the Help and Advice sector where smaller more locally focussed organisations can blossom without the influences from a London Big Brother out of touch with local issues.