Post by Colin Henderson on Jan 30, 2017 11:39:19 GMT
The closures may have eased up but the cuts keep coming, especially for those who rely on local authority funds. For speed I'm just doing quick links: Croydon CAB closes an office:
It is with great sadness that we made the difficult decision to close our office in New Addington on Friday 25th November 2016. Unfortunately the grant provided by Croydon Council does not enable us to continue to operate from two offices so we have moved our staff and volunteers to our office in South Norwood. We are currently looking to provide outreach services in New Addington and also at other locations around the borough in the future.
Funding from Walsall council is set to be reduced by £132,458 in 2017/18. Proposals include cutting the core grant year on year by 20 per cent for the next three years and removing funding from GP Outreach surgeries so clients with mobility or health conditions will be unable to access the service.
Lincolnshire Council funding for Citizens Advice in Lincolnshire will be reduced by 10% this year – a cut of almost £70,000. Lincolnshire County Council’s Executive agreed to continue funding the service with more than £600,000 in the 2017-18 financial year.
Opposition parties are opposing plans to cut funding to Gloucester and District Citizens Advice Bureau by half. Liberal Democrats and Labour want to protect the £62,000 grant the Eastgate Street bureau already gets as Gloucester City Council plans to cut its yearly funding to £31,000. The grant is already £48,000 smaller that it was in 2011 when the annual funding the bureau received was £110,000.
Wrexham A “secret” decision to axe council funding for the Citizens Advice Bureau has been slammed. Wrexham Council will halve the funding it provides to the town’s bureau in Grosvenor Road from the next financial year, which starts in April. And funding is set to dry up completely the following year. This financial year, the council provided the bureau with £47,251.01 in funding from its social care budget, with the figure set to drop to £23,625.50 from April 2017. A decision to axe the funding, along with money for AVOW, Age Connects and Deva House, was taken in an executive board meeting in October behind closed doors.
And a glimmer of light in Staffordshire which was to have massive cuts but these are being revised following community campaigning:
Staffordshire Community leaders have called plans to cut funding for debt advice and benefit services "foolhardy" and "retrograde". Staffordshire County Council had agreed to end the council's £439,000-a-year contribution to the countywide debt, benefit and consumer advice service provided by the Citizens' Advice Bureau (CAB). The decision to end the subsidy was approved by the council cabinet, but was called in for further discussion by members of the county council's Labour group. It was feared that if the cuts went ahead the CAB offices at Cheadle, Leek and Biddulph could close.
Post by Colin Henderson on Mar 28, 2017 19:36:04 GMT
Here's another quick update on recent advice cuts:
The CAB have issued a stark recent history of how their services have been reduced in recent years on their website:
"During the last five years the level of funding received by Citizens Advice Walsall has reduced from circa 1.2 million in 2012-13 to £635,747 in 2017-18 which is a reduction of 53%. We lost significant income due to Legal Aid reforms and the availability of funding sources has greatly diminished as the budgets of statutory agencies and other funders have reduced.
During recent years we have taken steps to negotiate and agree a range of measures with staff to minimise the impact of our reducing income including – using reserves, not filling vacant posts, recruiting existing staff to new projects, voluntary reduction in working hours, buying additional leave and minimising non-essential expenditure. Over this period staffing levels have reduced from 40 to 25 staff and will reduce further in the next few weeks.
We have reached the point where we need to implement a fundamental review of the services we offer to clients and the staff we employ to ensure that Citizens Advice Walsall remains financially viable and capable of responding to the challenges and opportunities we face in the future."
The new structure looks like it now employs just 14 FTE so that's quite a few more redundancies
Sadly it seems the huge cuts of over £ half a million to this county's advice services are going ahead after all:
"Staffordshire County Council is set to withdraw £510,000 worth of funding which will prompt sweeping changes to the CA from Thursday. But the county council has vowed that it will work with the CA to provide as much of the service as possible without its funding. Councillor Alan White, care and wellbeing chief, said: “Although we approached partners to see if any additional financial support could be found, unfortunately very little was offered.”
The cuts will mean a specialist service for people with mental health problems, which helped around 500 last year, is to be axed along with a home visit service to help older people with their benefits. A face-to-face service, which helped 1,200 people last year, is set to be scaled down and stopped altogether in some areas. And telephone service used for advice and booking appointments is set to be severely reduced. More than 18,000 people called the CA last year, but in some areas people will have to attend offices instead.
Sue Nicholls, chief executive of Citizens Advice Staffordshire South West which includes Cannock and Stafford, said on behalf of services across Staffordshire: “It is really important that people across Staffordshire have access to independent and impartial advice to help solve their problems. It is disappointing that the county council funding is being withdrawn which will mean a reduction in the range of services, specialist services and support we offer to local people. However, we have a number of other funders including district councils and together with our dedicated staff and volunteers we will continue to provide advice to as many people as possible.”
Councillor White added: “As a county council we have to work with the budget we have available and need to prioritise funding for those services which we have a legal duty to provide, such as the care of the elderly, people with learning disabilities, and the children in our care. This has meant making some difficult decisions about the funding of non-statutory services, including the debt, benefits and consumer advice service currently provided for us by the Citizens Advice.”
And the Gloucester cuts also went ahead. These will create a shortfall of £50K and further redundancies at the Law Centre. Here is the Manager Anne Whitworth: "If this budget cut goes ahead the law centre will have a shortfall between income and expenditure of around £50,000 in 2017/18 which will lead to further redundancies unless they can obtain additional funding elsewhere. This is extremely difficult in the current financial climate. Without further funding we will be looking at making further redundancies but we have already had to cut our staffing levels by half when legal aid was terminated for many cases.
"It is very hard to get funding to pay staff costs for advice work at the moment. We are lucky that we have some reserves (as required by company and charity rules) and could use some of this towards the shortfall in funding but that would only be a very short-term measure and what we really need is stable funding. If we look at redundancies it is difficult to see where we could cut any further, and anyway cutting advice staff means we also lose legal aid income which again increases the shortfall so it’s a vicious circle.
"The advice we give is very specialist, for example housing and benefits, family services and asylum seekers. The people we advise daily could not afford private advice and I am concerned as to where it will leave them. We are fortunate to have a good team of volunteers but we need money to cover running costs and with the proposed budget cuts I am not sure how we will continue to fund the service unless we are lucky enough to find funding elsewhere."
"Norman Gardner, manager of Gloucester’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau has spoken of his disappointment following a 50 per cent cut in funding from the city council to the organisation. The council has axed about £30,000 of Gloucester CAB’s annual grant as part of total budget cuts of £1.5million. The savings include £145,000 less for the voluntary sector in the city. Mr Gardner said: "£30,000 is not a small amount for us and, at the moment, we don’t know where that is going to come from. We had resigned ourselves to the fact it was going to happen but it is still disappointing. We are going to have to take stock and decide where we go from here.
"We are working through several options and we did write to the council to tell them we would probably need to reduce our opening hours. This will have a significant impact. We saw 5,000 people in Gloucester last year, which is around 25 per day knocking on our door. If we have to cut our service by a day or two days those people will still need help but it means waiting times will increase. We are limited in the number of people we can see in one day due to interview space. We still intend to cover the breadth of work we currently do but the likelihood is we will end up seeing less people. This will mean there may well be people who need help but will fall through the cracks."
To enable the Citizen’s Advice team to advise more people without the need for interview space, they do have a telephone and online advice facility as well as help pages on their website but Mr Gardner says although this is fine for very simple questions there are often issues that are ’quite complex.’ "More than 80 per cent of the advice given is face to face, not just because of the complexity of the issue but also because clients prefer to sit and talk to someone. Many cases we look at, especially complex debt or benefit cases, need a face to face appointment but if we have to cut opening times we can only see so many people in a day."
"Citizens Advice Portsmouth will close its office in Northern Road, Cosham on Tuesday 28 February 2017. Citizens Advice has been providing much needed advice and support in the Cosham area since the start of the Second World War.
The City Council stopped funding the Citizens Advice service in 2012, but with funding from the Big Lottery Fund, various philanthropic trusts and other bodies, Citizens Advice were able to carry on providing advice and support. Over the last 18 months, it has drawn on its reserves to keep this important service going but that is no longer possible. As a charity, Citizens Advice can’t run at a loss and has to balance the books. The board of directors have reluctantly decided that the Cosham closure is unavoidable."