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Fears rise over Waveney support for CAB

PUBLISHED: 08:34 27 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:38 05 July 2010

A WAR of words broke out last night over claims the amount of council support given to the Citizens Advice service in Waveney could be cut.

The number of people asking for help from the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in the district increased by 45pc in the first six months of 2008-09 as more people face problems with debt and repossessions.

A WAR of words broke out last night over claims the amount of council support given to the Citizens Advice service in Waveney could be cut.

The number of people asking for help from the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in the district increased by 45pc in the first six months of 2008-09 as more people face problems with debt and repossessions.

But Waveney District Council has said it might have to reduce the amount of “in-kind” support it gives the service - including free rent, utility bills and cleaning services, which have been valued at about £20,000 a year.

If the support were taken away, the CAB would have to pay for its services from its existing grant, which will not be increased from the 2008-09 level.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said: “At this time when more and more people are seeking help from the CAB, the council decides to cut the support it gives. This is a savage and appalling blow to one of our best-loved voluntary organisations.”

He added: “Without the work of the CAB, the council will be faced with more people in rent arrears and more homeless people needing to be housed.

“It's a false economy to make their budget look better.”

Janet John, district manager of the North East Suffolk CAB, said: “This is very short-sighted of the council as the cost benefit of the bureau helping council tenants alone will far outweigh any short-term benefit to their budget.”

Colin Law, deputy leader of the council, said negotiations with the CAB were still under way and no decision on funding would be made until April at the earliest.

He said: “In May 2008, we met the CAB and it was agreed the ongoing arrangement, which provided them with 'in-kind' support including free rent, utility bills and cleaning services over and above substantial annual grant funding, could not continue in its current form.

“This is part of a district-wide policy to ensure transparency and fairness in funding to all voluntary organisations. The council values the work of the CAB enormously, which is why they were offered a one-year extension to their current arrangement and why we are keen to reach a negotiated agreement that is both supportive and reasonable.”

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