Cornwall Council has found some money to stop the unpopular cut to the Citizen’s Advice Service in Cornwall.
In response to “community consultation” Cornwall Council has confirmed a four year funding deal for Citizens Advice Cornwall has been agreed to secure the vital service for now at least.
In December, the Economy Growth and Development scrutiny committee yesterday voted to reject the CAB cut entirely. The Labour Group had vowed to schedule an amendment to the budget for Full Council to vote on if a deal wasn’t found beforehand. The Conservatives joined the criticism and said they’d support any moves to stop the cut.
More than 600 people responded to a Council survey, with many providing examples of how they use Citizens Advice Cornwall and the positive impact the service has had on them. An overwhelming number – more than 80% – supported the Council finding other ways of balancing the budget to maintain Citizens Advice services across Cornwall.
Chair of CAC Trustees, Sue Swift, said:
“Such a huge cut would mean a severe reduction in the number of people we can help, just at the time when we are seeing record numbers of people grappling with issues such as debt, benefit claims, housing, employment issues and discrimination.
“It also comes just as the Government is introducing sweeping reforms to the welfare system with the rollout of Universal Credit in Cornwall next year.”
A statement from County Hall says “The Council and CA Cornwall recognise the need and opportunity to modernise the service and provide more flexible access to advice for people in Cornwall, including those in our remote and rural communities. The current funding of £356,000 will gradually reduce by £20,000 a year over the next three years as CA Cornwall helps more clients through telephone and digital advice services. Alongside this, the Council will continue to provide premises for CA Cornwall in its St Austell One Stop Shop and work to find further premises where possible”
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Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Homes Andrew Mitchell said: “The Council is having to take tough budget decisions as a result of Government cuts to our funding, and make £75 million of savings on top of the £300 million we have already delivered.
We want people to have their say on these decisions and residents have been clear that they want the Council to continue funding CAC. While this will place further pressure on our budget, we are determined to make sure people across Cornwall can get the advice and support they need at a time when many are facing very real personal debt and welfare challenges under this Government’s austerity agenda.”
Neil Colquhoun, CA Cornwall’s chief executive, said: “We welcome the Council’s decision to continue funding our vital work for a further four years which will allow us to provide a level of service for people throughout the county.
“As the grant reduces, we will work to meet the challenge of making up the shortfall in money while looking at new ways of providing advice to the public.”