Search

Fresh debate over Citizens Advice funding in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 20:46 07 January 2020 | UPDATED: 20:46 07 January 2020

Cllr John Field questioned why Citizens Advice were being encouraged to make organisational changes when they were providing a vital service. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Cllr John Field questioned why Citizens Advice were being encouraged to make organisational changes when they were providing a vital service. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Fears have been raised that Citizens Advice Bureaux in Suffolk are being forced to change their structure despite performing a vital service.

Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for environment and public protection said CAB managers recognised there were savings to be found in organisational changes. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCILRichard Rout, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for environment and public protection said CAB managers recognised there were savings to be found in organisational changes. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Question marks were raised during Tuesday's scrutiny meeting at Suffolk County Council, where debate was heard on the return of a £120,000 annual grant by the council just a year after it announced funding would cease.

That grant has been pledged on the proviso that those Bureaux - which are independent charities - made organisational "transformations" to become more financially self-sustaining after three years.

But John Field, Liberal Democrat councillor said: "We are driving a highly-effective charity to transform its structure.

"Are we going the right way here or are we obsessed with forcing organisational change?"

He added: "Given the council has actually received an extra £7million funding more than it expected to, surely the sensible thing to do would be to use this money for services like Citizens Advice that desperately need it - rather than simply stashing it away into reserves?"

You may also want to watch:

Richard Rout, Conservative cabinet member for environment and public protection pointed to the changes made in West Suffolk as proof that efficiencies could be found.

Instead of remaining individual charities, five of the CABs in west Suffolk have all been embraced under a single West Suffolk organisation while retaining their offices in each of the five towns.

He said: "Looking at the model in the west that is successful, the managers by and large recognise that savings can be delivered through organisational change.

"I don't think any of us question the contribution the Citizens Advice Bureaux make to Suffolk."

The county council last year announced the £368,000 annual grant would be axed, albeit phased over two years, but in this budget has restored £120,000 per year for three years.

That announcement prompted a cross-council review panel to be set up to assess means of supporting CABs.

Data published at the end of December by the task group found those CABs helped central and local government save £8.1m and produced wider economic benefits of £48.1m.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Lowestoft Journal. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Most Read

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Most Read

Latest from the Lowestoft Journal