Great Yarmouth Citzens Advice Bureau funding crisis

A CHARITY which has proved a lifeline for families hit by the recession is facing financial difficulties of its own which could see the service reduced –just when people need it most.

Yare Valley and District Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), which has an office in Great Yarmouth, is battling to bridge a �40,000 funding shortfall to prevent it having to cut its services.

The charity’s three offices in Yarmouth, Wymondham and Attleborough have been a crucial source of advice for people seeking help during the recession and the numbers passing through its doors in Yarmouth alone have increased from 570 during the period April-June last year to 980 from January-March.

Originally, the funding shortfall was �70,000, but concerned Yarmouth Borough Council cabinet members rushed to the charity’s aid by granting the CAB �30,000 at their last meeting before the new cabinet members took up their roles.

Cabinet member for transformation Barry Stone said the cabinet was keen to give the support because of the CAB’s role in helping those struggling to make ends meet in some of the poorest wards in the country.

He added: “We have always regarded the CAB as vitally important, and the service it provides, and we were happy to support the CAB and provide this extra donation.”

He urged people to remain positive until the economic downturn had passed.

Most Read

“That is one of their major roles, helping the unemployed and we know that they are playing a major role, along with other organisations such as the job centres, in helping people affected by job cuts and so forth.

“The CAB offers an important advice service,” Mr Stone said.

Speaking at the meeting the then cabinet’s chairman Barry Coleman said: “The CAB does a good job and it is a successful partner of ours.”

Judith Bell, chief executive of Yare Valley and District CAB, said there was still a chance some services could be reduced, although no decisions had yet been made.

Mrs Bell said the 21 paid staff and 75 volunteers in the three offices dealt with 5,000 people each year seeking advice on debts and welfare, unemployment and disability benefits, as well as advice on relationships and family matters.

She added although there was no significant increase when the economic downturn began in 2008, more people were now starting to come through as the effects of the recession were felt, particularly through increasing and long term unemployment.

“We are not in any immediate danger, but I think we have been prudent and have a board of trustees that are managing the situation at the moment, but that is why we have asked for the additional funding because we can’t continue to provide the same level of service on decreased funds,” she said.

A number of local authorities are already contributing funds to the Yare Valley and District CAB, including Norfolk County Council, Breckland Council and South Norfolk Council.