Labour call on Conservative run Suffolk County Council to stop Citizens Advice cuts
Opposition councillors have urged a county council to stop its proposed cut to Citizens Advice Bureaux across Suffolk.
Last month Conservative-controlled Suffolk County Council announced it was to end its £375,000 grant to the Citizens Advice Bureau next financial year before later revising its plans, opting for a phased reduction.
Under the draft budget, in 2019/20 CAB's across the county will share £184,000, with the grant ending in 2020/21, as part of its effort to slim down its £500 million budget.
But yesterday the government released its Local Government Financial Settlement which handed the authority an unexpected £1.6 million windfall.
Today the leader of the Labour group at the council, Cllr Sarah Adams, said the unaccounted for money should be used to secure the future of CAB's.
Cllr Adams said: "The financial settlement nowhere near filling the huge funding gaps that exist in local government and we know that Suffolk residents will continue to suffer from ongoing Tory austerity.
"However, the unexpected one-off payment of £1.6 million will sustain the CAB's current level of funding so I am urging the Conservative-administration to see some sense and reverse their damaging cuts.
"We know that our CABs contribute far more than they cost, both economically and socially, and to lose this invaluable service would be a hammer blow to communities across Suffolk."
In Newmarket last year 2,010 people asked on of the branch's 13 volunteers for help - and across the county almost 22,000 people sought advice from the CAB.
Marc Walker, chairman of Newmarket's bureau, said the county's decision to end its grant was 'knee jerk and incredibly disappointing'.
"When you are looking at saving tax-payers' money what you should not do is cost them money and this is what this cut does. Our financial contribution to local people's lives far outstrips any funding that we receive," he said.
Cllr Richard Smith, the county council's cabinet member for finance and assets, said the Local Government Financial Settlement was a key part to developing next year's budget - which has yet to be decided on.
"It is pleasing to see that central government is recognising the tough financial calls we are being forced to make in local government."
Cllr Smith added: "Our finance team now needs to work through the rest of the information provided to collate the council’s final budget proposal ahead of its cabinet meeting in January 2019, taking into account figures received from the districts on council tax base.”