Advice Bureau facing crisis as Government cuts bite

Calderdale Citizens Advice Bureau is bracing itself for unprecedented levels of enquiries at a time when its resources are being slashed.

Ironically, it has just received its best ever audit for the level of service it has provided.

But, chief executive Rory Deighton painted a grim picture going forward.

Eighteen months ago the CAB employed 40-plus staff but that figure will be down to 16 next month.

Additionally, last year’s turnover of £950,000 has been reduced to £450,000.

And, with the Government’s Welfare Reform Programme gathering pace many more people are expected to seek help this year.

“It is an unwinnable situation,” said Mr Deighton.

Consequently, opening hours have been reduced and the help given to clients will also be reduced.

Instead of working on behalf of clients the CAB will now give information telling them what to do themselves.

“But, not everybody will have the skills to do that themselves,” said Mr Deighton.

The service is appealing for volunteers, but they take six to 12 months to train, and can’t undertake the level of work of salaried staff.

Mr Deighton said the programme of cuts would hit those in need hard.

“I can’t see any way that people won’t suffer by taking money off the poorest members of the community,” said Mr Deighton.

“We are going to see more tension with cut after cut affecting the same people.”

Calderdale CAB was praised for the quality of its work following an independent audit in January 2013.