By Max Clarke
A 7% cut in the Citizens Advice Bureaux’s budget has resulted n a drop in the numbers of people offered advice, the charity has said.
The Bureaux offer advice to UK residents on numerous problems- chiefly on debt and insolvency, though also about employment and consumer advice. A recent drop in consumer spend may account for a small portion of this drop, though rising levels of indebtedness, as well as mounting cuts in the public sector will leave many vulnerable people with nowhere to turn for impartial, free advice.
“Our clients tell us that CAB advice is a lifeline when they face debt, benefits housing and employment worries,” says Gillian Guy, the Bureaux’s Chief Executive. “Unless sustainable funding is put in place for the future, more and more people will have nowhere to turn when they desperately need help with urgent and serious problems.”
42% of the charity’s £76 million budget is directly funded by local government, with a further £26 million sourced from the publically funded Legal Services Commission. the Bureaux’s budget cuts come as a part of the Coalition government’s broader deficit reduction programme. This, the Bureaux allege, is a false economy due to the savings that free advice allow further down the line, as Guy explains:
“The irony is that as a volunteer-based service we provide excellent value for money and research has proved that timely CAB advice saves public money in the long run. Every £1 of legal aid spent on housing, debt, employment and benefits advice can save up to £8.80 in costs to the taxpayer further down the line, by nipping problems in the bud before they escalate out of control.”
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