Fight for advice bureaux heats up

Hereford CABCampaigners across Herefordshire are desperately fighting to save the county’s Citizens Advice Bureaux after a council decision has seen its funding completely withdrawn.

Herefordshire Council’s Helen Coombes formally signed off the cut of £117,460 last month – less than £1 per resident – stating that they are looking to fold part of the advice service into a new, broader health organisation, which will be overseen by the council.

The advice service will go out to tender for a new contract to start in April, with the council apparently hoping that the CAB will be one of the those making a bid!

While we are all aware of the tough cuts the council claims it needs to make, one look at the somewhat eye-watering amounts which are paid out in salaries and wages annually shows that austerity did not hit those at the top. Although it is mentioned in the council’s 2015 draft pay policy statement that cuts have been made to senior posts, it does not say where from and how much has been saved.

In 2013 Herefordshire CAB won ‘Volunteer Team of the Year’ as well as being rated in the top 7% of bureaux in England and Wales for the quality of the advice given.

The charity and its volunteers helped 5,180 people with 6,778 cases, dealing with 13,148 issues in the 2013/2014 period. The demographic of those helped has an interesting range. Over 22% were over the age of 60, 44% were in work and 46% identified themselves as disabled or suffering from a long term health condition.

The main purpose of the advice is to provide a positive difference to the lives of those seeking advice and, while not all of the outcomes can be quantified in monetary value, those that do tend to fall into two categories: increases in income, and management of debts.

The advice given had a financial benefit to Herefordshire residents of £4,420,865 during the 2013/14 period. While this is a huge amount of money this equates to only 10% of the estimated loss of £43m the county has suffered due to the effects of welfare reform.

The council itself reported that the number of food parcels given out by Hereford foodbank in the first three months of 2014 was over double that in the same period in 2013. Figures just collated for November 2014 show 161 people were provided for, 54 of those children. Hereford CAB helped refer some of these people in the worst instances.

While you may not have used the CAB yourself, you will know someone who has. Just a glance through some of the tweets and quotes on the website shows how emotional some people are getting over its potential loss.

But it is not emotion itself that can help save this service, it is action. If you only do one thing today, please take a minute sign the petition:  http://www.herefordshirecab.org.uk/

Mary

5 thoughts on “Fight for advice bureaux heats up

  1. Complete rubbish! Don’t get sucked into this article for crying out load!

    People used to have choices and Years ago food came first but now it’s the latest iPhone or big tv.

    If immigrants can come here to get work to make there lives better than so can everyone else!

    Food banks are plasters that cover up the wounds!

    Most people using food banks are because of benifit reforms by this goverment (ons statistics).

    No excuses really works out there and if you don’t like it then tough ! That’s what happens in America and every other country as I’ve travelled the world!!

    All these cuts are really worth it and I want the cuts to keep coming and bigger so people will eventually realise where all our money goes – ABROAD!

  2. Why should I pay someone above minimum wage when I can get someone from the EU who will work for minimum wage lol and you wonder why there’s foodbanks ? VOTE labour so we can collapse this expensive country already!

  3. This is an incredibly misleading article. The council simply wishes to have an agreement with the CAB that involves a written list of responsibilities etc, that they can refer to and use to ensure that tax payers get bang for their buck. An unconditional grant is not great from the point of view of a tax payer. They provide a service and as long as they promise to deliver and do deliver better than anyone else can/would, then they will win the bidding process every time.

  4. Unfortunately lonely B, that’s not the case. As one of the volunteers giving my time to help at the CAB, I can assure you that the article is right on the mark.

    The new service being commissioned by the council is to meet their responsibilities under the Care Act to provide information and advice fore people who might need community care. It specifically excludes any kind of legal advice or casework for things like benefit appeals, people facing the loss of their home etc. The new service they are setting up is not a replacement for the service the CAB currently provides. Without the grant the CAB receives at the moment, there will have to be cuts to the service and some very vulnerable people won’t be able to get the help they need.

    The CAB already had a written agreement with the council about the services provided for their grant and had to report on this regularly.

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