West Berkshire Council

Start date: 2016-10-31
End date: 2016-12-11
Results: 2017-03-09

Budget Proposal 2017/18: Citizens Advice Bureau

Reducing funding to the Citizens Advice Bureau

Background

This is one of seven budget proposals for 2017/18. You can view the full list online.

The council has a service level agreement with the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to provide services for people in the district needing support and guidance with a range of financial advice relating to:

  • Debt worries
  • Benefits enquiries
  • Housing and employment problems
  • Concerns about consumer or tax issues

CAB also provides:

  • Advice on legal matters
  • Advice on immigration
  • Advice on family and personal matters
  • Support for carers

CAB are fully open (drop in, telephones, appointments) for six sessions a week:

  • Monday to Wednesday mornings
  • Monday and Wednesday afternoons
  • Either Wednesday evening or Saturday morning

There are also specialist appointments on Tuesday afternoons and Thursdays and Outreach on Thursday mornings.

We have reviewed the numbers of clients seen by CAB and are aware that there has been a reduction in the people using the services offered. This could be because there are less people requiring support and advice, or as a result of the online facility, which helps to provide early advice and guidance to those in need. 


Legislation requirements

CAB will operate within their own governance framework, but from a legislative perspective there is nothing which requires us to provide the services offered by CAB.


What are we proposing?

We currently provide annual funding of £199,892 for the range of advice and support listed above. It is proposed to reduce this funding by £60,000 in 2017/18.


What do we think the impact will be?

We are aware that the impact of last year's proposals was to reduce the opening times of the CAB office. A further reduction in core funding will potentially impact on the small number of paid staff, which could then impact on the number of volunteer advisers that CAB can support.  This will mean fewer advisers on existing sessions or fewer sessions. The effect of both will be to reduce accessibility of advice to the public. These paid caseworkers may also have to spend a disproportionate amount of time on revenue generating projects which would then impact on clients.

Please refer to the pdf icon Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) for more detail. [46kb]


What else have we considered in arriving at our proposal?

No other options to reduce expenditure in this service have been identified.


Why we would like your views

We would like to hear from you as to how this proposal could potentially impact on you and on the wider community. In particular, we would be interested in any views you have on how we can minimise the impact of this proposed change.

All feedback will be considered, and a final decision made by Full Council at the meeting on 2 March 2017. Following this, the results and your anonymised response will be published on this page.

Please note: Twitter and Facebook posts will not be considered as a valid response.

This consultation is now closed.

What you told us

We received 67 responses to this consultation. Full details of the responses, considerations and recommendations can be seen below:

What we did

 A recommendation on how to proceed with this proposal was made to the Full Council Meeting on 2 March 2017. This can also be found in the Overview of Responses and Recommendations below.


At the vote, Councillors agreed to proceed with this proposal, but make £30,000 of transitional funding available in 2017/18.

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