- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Assembly member Joyce Watson is urging Powys Council to save the county’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) network.
At First Minister’s Questions today, the Labour Mid and West AM said Powys CAB is a “life-line” for people in financial trouble.
Powys council plans to cut £20 million – around one-eleventh of total spending – from its next budget, to balance the books. However, Mrs Watson argued that it should prioritise funding to help people in financial trouble and support Powys residents affected by welfare payment changes. She said:
“Every local authority is facing tough decisions, First Minister, but do you support my view that councils must prioritise and protect services that help people worst affected by Tory cuts and benefit changes?
“The CAB is a life-line for people in financial trouble, for those affected by the bedroom tax and other cruel reforms. Powys CAB is the only advice service covering the whole of Powys and Powys Council must protect it.”
As part of its comprehensive spending review, Powys County Council is proposing to cut all grant funding to Powys Citizens Advice Bureau from 1st April 2014, saving £93,580 per year. The cut would leave Powys as the only county in Wales without a CAB service.
An online petition calling on Powys County Council to not withdraw funding to Powys CAB has received 750 signatures.
In response, First Minister Carwyn Jones agreed that advice services should be protected but said local authorities had a responsibility to manage their spending.
Last year Powys CAB dealt with 21,194 advice issues, helping 6134 clients, and secured £2.2 million in benefit payments. It also re-negotiated £8m debts, helping to write off £1.4m of clients’ debt payments.
Powys CAB is the only advice service covering the whole of Powys. It provides free and confidential general advice, casework and specialist advice face-to-face and by telephone. It delivers its face-to-face service from premises in Newtown, Brecon and Ystradgynlais. It also operates outreach services throughout the county, including medical centres in Presteign, Talgarth, Welshpool and Llanfyllin, and other partner agency premises in Llandrindod Wells and Machynlleth.