Fight goes on over proposed cuts to Citizens Advice

Suffolk County Council are asking for the opinions of the public regarding cuts to Citizens Advice s

Suffolk County Council are asking for the opinions of the public regarding cuts to Citizens Advice services Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: ARCHANT

Staff at Suffolk’s Citizens Advice services say they are doing all they can to fight proposed cuts – with just two weeks left for people to have their say.

The county council is proposing that funding for CAB facilities in Suffolk will be reduced by half to £184,000 in 2019 – and completely removed in 2020.

There are fears this could put the future of some services in jeopardy.

CABs offer free, confidential and impartial advice to 22,000 people in Suffolk each year on a range of issues, including debt, benefits, housing and employment.

Jane Ballard, manager of the West Suffolk CAB, said: “We’re still meeting across the county to see if we can get the council to reconsider the changes. We’re doing all that we can.

“We are the only advice service that will help anyone, for free.

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“We’ve already picked up the work of other services that have experienced cuts.

“It’s difficult to see who would be able to carry on our work.”

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An online consultation for people share their views on the proposed cuts has been open since December.

And with only two weeks to go until it finishes, Suffolk’s CABs are urging people to have their say.

The online survey is open until January 23.

A petition to reverse the proposed funding cuts to CAB services already has over 3,000 signatures.

Richard Rout, cabinet member for environment and public protection at Suffolk County Council, said: “The consultation will give residents the opportunity to tell us how they currently use the CAB service.

“We want to hear how they may be impacted, specifically from an equality perspective, by any potential changes to funding.”

The funding cuts are part of plans for Suffolk County Council to save £11.2 million as outlined in the authority’s 2019-20 budget proposals.

The funding cuts are part of plans for the council to save £11.2 million as outlined in 2019-20 budget proposals.

As well as CAB services, the council plans to cut funding in other areas including rural bus services, winter gritting, and the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

Sarah Adams, leader of Suffolk County Council’s Labour group, branded the cuts as “short-sighted and frankly ludicrous”.

Yet Richard Smith, Conservative cabinet member for finance, said the council has “tough choices to make”.

“I hope the public in Suffolk will understand our continuing budget difficulties.”

Have your say online here.

Sign the petition here.

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