CAB chief warns fewer people with debt, housing and benefits problems will be helped if funding in Northamptonshire is cut

Martin Lord fears less people will be helped.
Martin Lord fears less people will be helped.

Even fewer people with serious debt, housing and benefits problems will be helped in Northamptonshire if council funding is slashed by more than a third, a Citizen’s Advice Bureau chief has said.

A review of independent advice funding by Northamptonshire County Council has recommended that the annual value of the work should be cut from £240,000 to £150,000.

It also said the money – which currently goes to the Community Law Service, which also sub-contracts CAB branches – should be divided between the district and borough councils based on the need of a particular area.

But Martin Lord, manager of the Central and East Northamptonshire CAB, said the likely result was that fewer people would get advice.

About 5,000 Northamptonshire people a year get debt advice alone from CLS and CAB offices. However, because of funding limitations, that is only some of those in need.

Mr Lord said: “The direct effect on us will be minimal in the short term but the CABs in Daventry and Corby in particular, and our colleagues at CLS, will have reduced capacity to undertake work of the sort funded through this agreement.

“Everyone will have to think more carefully what national services are available and what self-help can be encouraged. While those avenues aren’t always fully explored and will be right for some, there will be many, many people for whom quality-assured advice will be more appropriate.”

The county council said the funding decision will be taken by the director of public health and a cabinet member and that council staff will be given debt-advice training.

However prospective parliamentary candidate Sally Keeble said: “Such an important area should be consulted upon and debated.”

“For an officer to have this decision behind closed doors is not good enough.”