CAB fears funding cut will close office

Motherwell and Wishaw Citizens' Advice Bureau claims it may have to close an office if councillors do not reconsider cutting its funding.

CAB hoped a petition with 4,500 signatures would save it from cuts.

The Policy and Resources Committee at North Lanarkshire Council voted 9-6 to cut its contribution to the five North Lanarkshire CABs by £124,250 from October 1 for the rest of the financial year, equivalent to a full year reduction of £248,500.

This was approved despite over 4,500 signatures on a petitions and 1,000 individual letters sent to the council by from the public protesting the severity of the cuts.

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Council leader Jim Logue stated during the committee meeting that the CABs had other funding streams and could no longer be protected from austerity savings.

Kinga Kosakowska, executive manager of Motherwell and Wishaw CAB, said: “CAB benefits from a great level of public support, which we would like to thank them for, but unfortunately the councillors did not take into consideration.

“These cuts will have a severe impact on services such as debt and welfare rights advice which we provide to clients to ensure they have an independent organisation within their communities.”

The cuts are due to be ratified by a meeting of the full council on October 3, and the CAB hopes councillors will do a u-turn so the Wishaw office doesn’t have to be closed.

Ms Kosakowska said: “Beyond October 1, the council are removing the funding for CAB to deliver debt advice and this means that anyone in North Lanarkshire needing debt advice will have to approach the council as there will be no other provider of face to face advice.

“If these cuts are ratified on October 3, there is a strong possibility that Wishaw CAB will need to be closed as it will simply not be feasible to continue to deliver our current level of service for this drastically reduced budget.

“The council repeatedly argue that as CAB receives funding from other sources, we should be able to absorb these cuts and continue to deliver services as normal.

“Motherwell & Wishaw CAB have been proactive in securing funding to plug gaps in service provision, but any funding secured from external organisations is ring-fenced for specific projects and cannot be used to plug the gaps left by the council in our core funding.

“We wish to thank the six councillors on the committee who voted against the cuts and hope when it goes in front of the full council other councillors who know the valuable work we do will also show their support.”