Do you take Citizen’s Advice for granted? For many it’s a lifeline, the first port of call for any issues rising from legal, debt, consumer, and housing, yet Wiltshire Council has slashed £100k off its funding, about one-third of their budget. Makes you wonder why they ever dropped their slogan, “where everybody matters,” really, doesn’t it?!
The independent organisation has been rallying local town and parish councils for support. A spokesman from Citizen’s Advice was heard at the Devizes Town Council Committee Meeting on Tuesday 16th August, to plea for financial help.
The trade publication Third Sector states around 60% of Citizens Advice funding comes from government sources, but Citron contends there’s tension between Citizens Advice and the government, because while the charity relies on government funding to survive, it’s most effective as a high-profile critic of government policy. As if the government has any policies worthy of criticism! But cuts like these forces the bureau to seek much more funding from other sources. Locally, they’re approaching major towns and parishes for support.
As well as rising prices, Devizes Town Council explained the spokesperson was keen to point out this was “unfortunate in timing as they anticipated a rash of applications for help when the next raise in energy caps occurs, as well as coping with the other challenges of inflation.”
Councillor Ian Hopkins rightfully criticised the savagery of the cut and the timing, suggesting the town council “were not the authority to whom they should be appealing but, in suggestion a more rational approach, suggested an application in the autumn, prior to budget setting.”
Our local branch is situated in New Park Street, yet serves a wider community across villages and other local towns, so, Councillor Burton’s enquiry if funds would be spent on supporting Devizes people only could not be reassured by the spokesperson. She did however confirm they had received some responses offering various sums.
Councillor Hunter asked whether any other of their services could be redirected back to Wiltshire Council or other agencies. The representative confirmed that Age UK has been supportive but CAB remains the first port of call during which they hope to empower clients to follow up themselves, leaving it unlikely that Wiltshire Council would be impacted.
There was a surge amidst Devizes Town Council of favouring grants which would be kept for local use, but the councillor Hopkins suggested that £1,500 should be given, pending a more formal application for better funds, a proposal that was carried unanimously.
So, well done DTC, you’re officially in my good books (were you ever not, you need ask?!) No, really, I’ve applied some Lynx Africa and I’m coming in for a group hug, asap! Citizens Advise is a sustenance for so many, providing free advice and help is essential even more in this day and age, yet it’s a sad reality of a failing government when Citizen’s Advise needs its own advice on how to fund itself.
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