Citizens Advice Bureaux Services Under Threat

07/12/2019

Plaid Cymru councillor Steve Skivens warns about the impact on the most vulnerable in society if the budget of  Citizens Advice Bureaux is cut.

“I have been a trustee at Caerphilly Citizens Advice Bureau, since 2002 and watched the level of service and support to vulnerable people grow out of all proportion to the activity and needs when I first joined in as a volunteer.

Later the service expanded across Blaenau Gwent and set up a similar service availability across South East Wales. It has been supported in its vital services by a range of funding streams with core funding coming from local authority budgets.

With austerity spending cuts have been common place for years but with good governance and management effort the service has survived and evolved to meet the need.

However, today we see the local authorities considering swathing cuts to the CAB funding. Cuts of 40% to 50% or possibly higher; of their core budget has been muted. This will severely impact on the service and its accessibility.

What beggar’s belief is that the need of vulnerable people, those in or on the edge of poverty and even those with jobs who can’t make ends meet or need support in their employment issues, continues to grow rapidly.

Often the service assists people with both temporary or long-term issues to get assistance, support, advocacy or point the route to other support organisations. Often the needs are complex and deep routed and require a dedicated, trained and competent case worker to unravel.

What will happen if the CAB services are not there appears obvious to some? People will either go below the surface and suffer or turn up at the local authority offices and service points to seek assistance.

It seems counter productive and has the impact been fully considered on the very authorities which creates this change?

CAB provides a safety net in our society. The local authorities have relied on this very strong safety net being in place to assist them. Additionally, CAB are an active partner who understands the constantly changing societal impacts of legislation changes, benefits changes, debt, absence of legal support structures and family and employment issues emergent.

Of all the services to be cut at this time it seems both counter-productive for the authorities themselves and their staff but pulls the rug from under some of the most needy or troubled people in our communities.

I ask my colleagues in the controlling Labour Group on Caerphilly Council to re-consider the funding position again.”

  • Budget proposals by Labour-run Caerphilly Council would see the support given to three voluntary organisations – Citizens Advice, Groundwork and Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations (GAVO) - slashed from £209,000 to £129,000 in 2020-21.