Advice bureau is facing closure
‘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.’