County council urged to restore full Citizens Advice grant by independent panel
PUBLISHED: 19:02 15 January 2020
An independent task group assessing funding for Citizens Advice Bureaux has called on the county council to restore its £368,000 annual grant in full.
But despite performing a u-turn on proposals to axe funding entirely, the council appears to be unwilling to consider a full grant again.
Suffolk County Council last year announced it would cease its £368,000 annual grant, phased over two years.
The clinical commissioning groups rescued CABs with a zero-hour deal to provide funding for £184,000 for a year, before the county council announced it would provide £120,000 a year for the next three years from April 2020.
The proposed grant cut last year prompted a cross-council task force to be formed with the purpose of assessing CAB funding measures, which has now presented its final recommendations.
In the report, the task group - which featured input from all councils except East Suffolk said: "The task and finish group recommend to the clinical commissioning groups and Suffolk County Council that they work together to ensure that between them a minimum of £368,000 is granted to Suffolk CABs annually beyond 2020/21."
The district and borough councils, which also provide grant funding, are continuing to provide cash which totals more than half a million pounds per year.
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The group's study found wider benefits of up to £48million for the economy from CABs.
But despite the recommendations, the county council has failed to commit to more funding.
Conservative cabinet member for environment and public protection, Richard Rout, said: "I appreciate the work that has gone into the report, we are all in agreement that Suffolk's CABs provide important services.
"I have met regularly with Suffolk's CABs over the last year and listened to their concerns.
"They have welcomed our proposed three-year funding settlement, which offers the stability they have been seeking.
"Our expectation is that, over this longer term, they can secure the transformation and additional funding sources that we believe are necessary and appropriate.
"As a funder, we are asking that Suffolk County Council's key priorities are supported, for example reporting on the number of clients presenting with domestic abuse, to those supported in making their homes more energy efficient.
"We believe that this is realistic and we look forward to supporting Suffolk's CAB in the coming years."
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