Funding blow for vital advice service
The future of a vital welfare and debt service in Newmains is in doubt after it lost vital council funding.
The Newmains Advice Centre, in Abernethyn Road, has provided welfare support and money advice to locals for decades.
However, the centre was unsuccessful in obtaining cash from the council after the local authority’s review of information and advice services.
Of the 10 applications to the council only North Lanarkshire Citizens Advice Bureau’s were successful in obtaining funding.
Newmains’ SNP councillor Cameron McManus said: “The Newmains Advice Centre has been open for over 30 years and provides confidential information and advice free of charge to the people of Murdostoun.
“They deal with a number of issues varying from benefit enquires and job seekers to council tax and retirement issues. Their facilities allow people to use computers to create and update CVs and to help clients look for jobs online, which is now a must to help claim Jobseekers Allowance.
“These people help others from all different backgrounds and no issue is too big or small for them to help deal with.
“Last y e a r ’s Labour administration’s decision to cut the budget for such a vital service for the area is appalling and their further decision to cut it again this year is wholly unacceptable and will affect hundreds of people in my area.
“I have been told that the centre could remain open with £40,000 per year of funding.”
Labour Murdostoun member Louise Roarty admitted she was disappointed with the decision made.
She added: “The work the centre does in Newmains is tremendous considering most are volunteers.
“It’s very disappointing and not the news I was hoping for.
“However, I’m hoping the council will provide other levels of support for the advice centres and will be exhausting every avenue to try and get other external funding.”
Councillor Roarty added that she hoped to see local CAB’s sub- contract work out to their relevant advice centre’s including Newmains.
Independent councillor Robert McKendrick admits he is gutted that the council made the decision with the centre expected to close its doors in March.
He added: “I have met with the staff at the advice centre on several occasions down through the years to discuss the continual cuts to their excellent service in the village.
“I am extremely disappointed with North Lanarkshire Council’s decision to remove the funding. Newmains is already a deprived area and this now means a journey to the nearest CAB office in Wishaw for my constituents.”
The council’s infrastructure committee convener Michael McPake pointed the finger of blame at the door of the Scottish Government for cuts to the council’s block grant.
He said: “These proposals are yet another example of some of the decisions which must be considered due to the dire financial settlement from the Scottish Government.
“Our advice and information centres have already paid the price of SNP austerity in Holyrood over the last few years and unfortunately will be hit again as a result of the Scottish Government’s unwillingness to properly fund local services. We will work with all of the organisations potentially affected by these changes in the hope that they find alternative means of funding to continue offering their services to local people.”
Uncertain future Robert McKendrick, Cameron McManus, Louise Roarty and Susanna McGinlay at the the Newmains centre