The Calderdale Citizens Advice Bureau say they face losing as many as half of their 36 staff due to funding changes - despite record levels of demand.
The CAB now anticipates having to make between 11 and 18 more people redundant before April 2013, as widespread cuts to legal aid by central government take affect.
Other smaller grants received by the CAB in 2012 also come to an end, creating a “worst scenario” forecast as the organisation loses half of all of its income. For some staff this will be their third redundancy process in 3 years.
Chief Executive Rory Deighton said: “As we stand today, all CAB services remain open and running normally and will do so until at least Christmas.”
“None of our existing clients need worry about services being stopped immediately, and we will continue starting new client cases, until the new year. We will then begin to notify clients how our services may change and reduce, probably from mid January”.
The government proposed cutting legal aid as long ago as 2010, and the CAB and Mr Deighton said the prospect of some resource changes was never a surprise.
“The CAB trustees have for 3 years made it clear to local and national politicians, public service officers and our own staff, that the funding picture for 2013 looked challenging on a scale never seen before. We have already reduced our workforce and experimented with quicker ways to help more clients. Wide consultation will now take place with all stakeholders and we are developing an outline plan for running a smaller but still very active service.
“We will continue to search for new resources to replace those being cut. However, the scale of the cuts being made mean that it is highly unlikely that this situation will be wholly averted”.
Services in future at the CAB will be focussed on helping a greater number of people try to self manage and cope with their financial and welfare problems.
“We will be reducing significantly the number of complex cases we can run as a result of legal aid cuts. CAB will instead have to concentrate more on assessing the advice needs of clients and encouraging them to pursue their own initial remedies with our guidance, rather than us completely handling their case at a late stage of legal problems.
“In the future, we will continue to support the community through our skilled and committed volunteers, who offer thousands of hours of support every year.”
“Exactly how these changes are decided by the CAB trustees will be based heavily on the ideas and suggestions of our staff, who have proven, time and again that they are flexible, innovative and dedicated. It will take some weeks for us to properly plan the changes and reorganise our staff.
“It seems almost unreal that at a peak of demand for our services we are obliged to prepare for a drastic cut in capacity, but the CAB will as ever do its
very best,” he said.