Fund­ing blow for vi­tal ad­vice ser­vice

Wishaw Press - - FRONT PAGE - Ross Thom­son

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

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