Ad­vice bureau is fac­ing clo­sure

The Oban Times - - News -

‘IS THIS the end for the Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau in Ar­gyll?’

That was the ques­tion raised by Gil­lian McInnes of Ar­gyll and Bute Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau fol­low­ing a pub­lic meet­ing in the Cor­ran Halls, Oban last Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss pro­posed cuts to Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil’s bud­get.

She said: ‘Part of the pack­age of sav­ings in the coun­cil’s pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion pa­per, ser­vice choices, is the ‘re­moval of fund­ing to ad­vice ser­vices’.

‘You’d be for­given for not hav­ing re­alised that this one line in the 23rd page doc­u­ment refers to the Ar­gyll and Bute Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau (CAB) be­cause the or­gan­i­sa­tion is not named. It ap­pears within the Plan­ning and Reg­u­la­tory Ser­vices part of the Stop to Save sec­tion.

‘If the seed- corn fund­ing from the coun­cil ends, there will be no lever to bring in the ad­di­tional £ 500,000 each year in grants forc­ing the CAB to close. Peo­ple get help from the CAB with al­most 8,000 is­sues each year and in Oban, Lorn and Isles 1,279 peo­ple had as­sis­tance last year. It is hard to com­pre­hend the hard­ships that peo­ple will be forced to en­dure if they don’t have our as­sis­tance. We help peo­ple with debt, em­ploy­ment, hous­ing, ben­e­fits and a mul­ti­tude of other prob­lems.

‘All too of­ten we see peo­ple who feel help­less and in many cases hope­less, but with our help they re­gain dig­nity and in­de­pen­dence and can see a way for­ward. In ad­di­tion to the fi­nan­cial gain for peo­ple (es­ti­mated at £180,000 for the Oban area each year) the CAB helps peo­ple to avoid home­less­ness, to im­prove their liv­ing and work­ing con­di­tions, to know their rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and to be able to af­ford to live in Ar­gyll and Bute and pay their bills.’

Jane MacLeod, chair­woman of the board of direc­tors for the CAB, said: ‘It is dif­fi­cult to understand why coun­cil­lors would vote to lose this re­spected or­gan­i­sa­tion which brings such added value to the eco­nomics of Ar­gyll and Bute and to the coun­cil it­self. I hope peo­ple will go on­line and fill in the coun­cil ques­tion­naire and choose to save this in­valu­able or­gan­i­sa­tion.’

In a re­cent let­ter to coun­cil leader, Dick Walsh, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Scot­land, Mar­garet Lynch said: ‘We are ex­tremely con­cerned to hear that Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil is propos­ing to re­move fund­ing from this vi­tal ser­vice and we re­gard this as be­ing of sig­nif­i­cant detri­ment to those liv­ing in the re­gion.’

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