Post by Colin Henderson on May 22, 2016 18:15:52 GMT
This is a big shock - it's a neighbour Bureau to one I work at, but I'd not heard any rumblings. Seems the Council have handed the advice contract to Shelter, whose Lancashire office is in Blackburn. If that is the case, then I hope the sacked staff get some urgent employment advice about TUPE.
And this is a very controversial decision. Shelter are housing specialists - they don't have staff experienced in generalist advice nor the back office systems like AdviserNet and Petra to support this work. And so much for the farce of "partnership working" - agencies are dogs fighting in the street. More to come on this...
Blackburn with Darwen Citizen Advice Bureau is set to close after losing a key council contract. The CAB failed to secure the contract with Blackburn with Darwen Council, believed to have been worth £100,000, and bosses were yesterday telling its 13 staff that it will close at the end of the month.
The new contract is believed to have gone to Shelter, but no official announcement on a replacement will be made until next week. The CAB, which is based at Blackburn Library and helps between 3,500 and 4,000 people a year, was not taking on any new cases today. And bosses were meeting last night to discuss how to deal with the cases they already have.
Yesterday Blackburn with Darwen CAB chairman Steve Hughes said: “I am heading in to Blackburn to tell staff that we will be shutting the organisation at the end of the month. It will be the end of the CAB. That will have a huge impacts on clients within the Blackburn with Darwen area. There are quite a few deprived areas in Blackburn and we have done some great work with them and developed some fantastic relationships. This will have an immediate impact because we will not be taking on any new cases from now. Any case work that we have got currently will be dealt with until the end of the month. That will then be handed over to the new provider. It is because the council has decided to tender the contract to another organisation. This is the stark reality of what happens when council’s decide they want to effectively tender a service they didn’t need to.
Blackburn with Darwen CAB has got a fantastic track record of delivering advice and now all that will come to an end. "We have had fantastic support from the council in the past and we did not expect this. Last year we saw 4,960 clients and dealt with 7,383 problems. We helped write off £1,275,451 of debt and gained an extra £4,865,333 in benefits for the residents of Blackburn with Darwen. As you can see, we have done some fantastic work and it would be a shame to lose this service at a time of great need."
Liz Potts, Chief Executive said: “It's a very disappointing outcome, both for the service but more importantly for the community that we serve. Our brand nationally is one of the most recognised in the country and Blackburn with Darwen will be impoverished by the loss of such a trusted service. Seven members of staff will lose their jobs and the loss to the community in terms of volunteering opportunities will be enormous. I would like to thank all staff, volunteers and partners for their support and dedication over the last 37 years.”
It is understood CAB, Shelter and a third organisation went in for the contract. A decision was made by committee but that is now subject to a one-week ‘cooling’ period, before it is officially rubber stamped. A spokesman for Blackburn with Darwen council spokesman said: “As things stand, this has not officially been awarded yet. What we can say is a new contract is being awarded subject to council procedures.”
Post by Colin Henderson on Jun 13, 2016 11:43:17 GMT
An update on this very sad case of the loss of a much-needed agency. The contract retender decision has been confirmed but the Bureau has yet to receive feedback on why the Shelter consortium won and the previous contract holders lost. I am also told that CAB staff have all been given notice and the premises at the library will have to be vacated.
But the CAB has not yet closed its doors completely and whilst running down its reserves it is looking for a solution which might keep some sort of presence in the towns. Here is their latest press release:
Citizens Advice services in Blackburn with Darwen are changing with immediate effect. The charity, which runs its services from Blackburn Central Library, will be closing its generalist face-to-face advice service on 31 May.
It will continue to offer generalist telephone advice and specialist face-to-face money advice for the next three months. Anyone who needs advice should call the helpline on 03444 889 622. From there, people will either receive telephone advice, be referred for a specialist money appointment or be directed to another local advice agency.
Citizens Advice Blackburn with Darwen has helped local people solve their problems since 1979. In the last year alone, the charity helped 4000 people with 7400 issues through its general and specialist advice services. The top four most common issues were money advice, benefits and tax credits, employment and housing.
Following a local authority commissioning process, the service will no longer receive council funding or the use of the Central Library premises. The face-to-face advice service will close, and remaining funding will be used to provide a short-term service while the charity winds down.
Steve Hughes, Chair of Citizens Advice Blackburn with Darwen, said: “Citizens Advice Blackburn with Darwen is proud to serve local people and we’re deeply disappointed by the funding cut which has brought about the closure of our advice service. Over the last three decades we have helped people in every situation to solve their problems, supporting people with anything from energy to employment, discrimination to disability. We’ve also brought wider benefits to the community - last year, for every £1 invested in our service we saved local and national government £4.25. I would like to thank the staff and volunteers for their endless generosity and commitment to helping people in Blackburn and Darwen.”