Thursday, 30 October 2008

Save the CAB

I've recently been involved in the campaign to keep money advice services public and accessible. The Legal Services Commission and Local Authorities fund charities like the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) who provide legal and financial advice mainy to people in debt. Last year, the local CAB office in Pontypridd supported people with a combined £4.4 million worth of debt. As the economic crisis starts to be felt, the office's work has increased. In only the first six months of this year, they've dealt with £3.5 million worth of debt. We all know things will get worse before they get better. Pontypridd CAB could be looking at record figures by the end of the year.

But Citizens Advice Bureaux are under threat. This is what happened after Hull CAB failed to win the new contract for a Community Legal Centre. A4e won that contract.

In Wales, there are proposals to create eight procurement centres (CLANs) to contract community legal services and general advice services. The contracts are winner-takes-all based on competetive tendering and marketisation. The danger is that the contracts will not cover the actual cost of providing the service. Private firms like A4e can cut their costs, but no doubt, quality will be reduced.

People know and trust the Citizen's Advice Bureax. They don't want to lose them. I've raised a Statement of Opinion in the Assembly which has been signed by members from all parties represented in the Assembly. If anyone knows an Assembly Member who hasn't signed it, a bit of pressure might help to save your local Citizen's Advice Bureaux office.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In addition to tall the other benefits Rhondda Taff Citizens Advice Bureau is providing to its local community such as debt, benefits, housing and employment
advice, it is also providing opportunities to students at the
University of Glamorgan's Law School. Five students are currently training to be advisers there in addition to obtaining credit for their university course by reflecting on their experiences as trainees. There is no way a private company would look to work with educational institutions to provide opportunities for young people as well as excellent experience which will enhance their employability.