Cuts to advice service are a ‘perfect storm’

CALLS have been made to rethink proposals to slash money for a service helping those facing employment or cash troubles.

Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) in Daventry faces losing the money it receives from Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) as the authority attempts to reduce its budget by millions of pounds.

NCC is proposing cutting all of its £203,000 county-wide funding for debt and financial management.

With people across the area set to feel the impact of tax rises, benefits changes and possibly redundancy, some say now is not the time to cut cash from such a service.

At the moment NCC gives Advice Daventry, which includes Daventry CAB, £26,572 a year.

Cllr Chris Long, who represents Daventry West on NCC, said: “So far many people haven’t been too badly affected by the economic situation.

“But what will happen from January onwards is people will face the VAT rise and then in April there will be changes in taxes and benefits that will hit a lot of people.

“Add to that public sector cutbacks and redundancies and you’re likely to find a lot of people needing help and advice that have never had to seek such before and may not know how to go about it.

“At the same time the county council is planning on cutting Citizens Advice Bureau funding. What we could have is the perfect storm.”

The CAB, which is based in the town’s Abbey Centre, would normally expect to see a rise in people coming to it in January and February as the exuberance of festive spending bites, but in 2011 it may see an even bigger increase due to the national economic situation.

Cllr Chris Over, from Daventry District Council, said: “A couple of years ago Citizens Advice in Daventry amalgamated with DIAL and Welfare Rights. That helped them make efficiencies in management.

“Now the county council wants to cut funding and expects efficiency savings – but that’s a nonsense as Advice Daventry has already made those changes.”

Cllr Long wants people’s views to present to NCC. He can be contacted on clong@northamptonshire.gov.uk