More than 3,500 people have already signed a public petition calling on Cornwall Council to abandon plans to cut its vital grant to Citizens Advice by more than 50%.
Under the council’s draft budget for 2017/18, Citizens Advice Cornwall would have its funding cut from £356,000 to just £153,000 which would mean the charity having to close seven of its nine offices across the county and drastically reduce the number of staff and volunteers available to give advice.
Chair of Citizens Advice Cornwall Trustees, Sue Swift, said:
“We are very grateful to all the members of the public who have signed our ongoing petition to the council – it’s great to know we are such a valued service to so many people and we really appreciate all the support we have received so far.
“We now need to keep the pressure on the council so we can continue to provide help and advice for the thousands of people who come to us every month struggling with issues such as benefits claims, debt, housing, employment issues and discrimination.”
The proposed cuts come just before the rollout of the Government’s Universal Credit welfare reform in Cornwall later this year.
Last year Citizens Advice Cornwall dealt with 19,000 cases at offices from Bude and Saltash to Penzance and helped gain £4.2 million in income for people in the county while also writing-off a total of £5.8 million in debt.
Members of the public can sign the petition on Change.org (search for Citizens Advice Cornwall on their website) or sign the paper version at any of CA Cornwall’s offices in Camborne, Saltash, Bude, Liskeard, Bodmin, Newquay, St Austell, Truro, Falmouth and Penzance.
Some of the supportive quotes from members of the public left on the Change.org website:
“I have had personal experience of the service and it was a godsend to me and my family. This service should truly be counted as another emergency service in times of dire need” (MM, Truro)
“Ordinary folk need unbiased advice and to know their rights. This would not be possible without the expertise of Citizens Advice. An invaluable service we can’t afford to lose.” (KH St Clether)
“I believe in the Citizens Advice Service – I have been helped by them on several occasions and found their advice invaluable.” (JS, Wendron)
“Citizens Advice is the last hope for people have nowhere else to turn. What kind of society would we be if we took that safety-net away?” (CW, Torpoint)
“This is a vital service especially for those who are vulnerable. I’ve used it plenty myself and they were very knowledgeable and caring in my situation. I dread to think what will become of the people who might not be able to access this support and advice in times of crisis.” (MW, Truro)
“Citizens Advice provide a service that it’s impossible for some people to find and afford elsewhere. It needs to be local. What about people in need with disability, no transport money etc?” (CB, St Agnes)
“People need to have access to free impartial advice. CAB do a fantastic job with the meagre funding they already receive. Cornwall Council need to re-think, especially with UC coming in and the problems it is going to create!” (KJ, Zelah)