15 January 2018
Citizens Advice charities in Suffolk will face a funding cut of £20 000 next year,despite increasing need for the services they provide.
The cuts come as part of a savings plan for 2018-19 drawn up by the Conservative administration at Suffolk County Council. With a budget gap of £26.8m, it is clear that the Council will need to change and adapt in order to continue providing vital services to the residents of Suffolk. However, a cut of £20 000 to such a valuable service is short-sighted.
An analysis of the impact and value of Citizens Advice services in 2016/17 shows that, for every £1 invested, £1.96 in savings to government and public services were generated (1). By intervening in problems early on, Citizens Advice helps to reduce the need for public services such as health, housing and out-of-work benefits, whilst also improving the wellbeing, participation and productivity of the people they help. The Council themselves acknowledge how important the Citizens Advice service in Suffolk is, stating “the return on investment for Citizens Advice is high and the service prevents demand reaching the County Council through its recognised contribution to mental health and wellbeing.” (2)
To make matters worse, Citizens Advice Bureaus across the UK are seeing an increase in the number of people requiring advice and support. Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk, one of 9 CABs in Suffolk, noted a 12% increase in clients requesting help in 2016/17 (3). Now is not the time to cut their funding.
Andrew Stringer, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group, has condemned the cuts, commenting:
“Suffolk County Council is supposed to protect our vulnerable residents, but cutting funding to Citizens Advice Bureaus is doing the exact opposite. These charities provide a lifeline to people across Suffolk – but they can’t do it without the financial support of the council.
It’s crazy that the council acknowledges how valuable the service provided by Citizens Advice is, and yet is still trying to cut their funding. Citizens Advice is the original ‘invest to save’ model. It is well known that CABs give a high return on investment by supporting vulnerable residents and contributing to their mental health and wellbeing. That’s exactly the kind of service the council needs to be investing more in.
Slowly cutting away the support they provide for services such as Citizens Advice isn’t a sustainable or wise solution to the financial problems facing Suffolk County Council.”
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