Cornwall Council says it is committed to finding a sustainable future for Citizens Advice Cornwall despite having a budget for service of zero.

Trustees and volunteers of Citizens Advice Cornwall have expressed their concern about proposed cuts by Cornwall Council which could lead to a 53% reduction in funding to the charity.

Under the council’s draft budget for 2017/18, Citizens Advice Cornwall would have its funding cut from £356,000 to just £153,000, which, it says, would have a major impact on the service provided to thousands of people across the county. This could involve the closure of several offices and a reduction in staff and volunteers.

To help persuade the council to drop the cuts, the charity’s volunteers have launched a public online and paper petition to be sent to the council ahead of the final budget meeting next February.

Deputy leader of the council Julian German said the council had made no decisions but remained committed to ensuring people in Cornwall who needed face-to-face support would continue to receive a service.

“The last council voted to cut funding for Citizens Advice Cornwall (CAC) to zero from April. While we have a tough challenge to find £75 million of savings, on top of £300 million already delivered, we are committed to securing a sustainable future for CAC.

“The debt and welfare challenges people are facing under this Government’s austerity agenda are real and that’s why we remain committed to finding a solution.”

The council had budgeted £0 for the organisation in the budget from April but is keen to provide continued funding and is consulting on a draft proposal of £153,000 to ensure those most in need can still access services.

People can have their say on the proposal through a survey on the Cornwall Council website:

“We are working with CAC to explore all of the ways that the Council can support them. For example, we are considering whether we can offer them office space in Cornwall Council buildings to cut their overheads,” Cllr German said.

“We all want a sustainable future for CAC but we are also faced with tough financial challenges and the reality that the Council budget is not limitless.

“We are also pushing to ensure Citizens Advice Cornwall are getting a fair share of national funding.”

The Council remains in discussion with CAC, with Councillors Paynter, Hannaford and Mitchell also recently meeting with CAC to consider a way forward.

Budget proposals will be considered by full Council in February 2018. Cornwall Council is challenged with finding another £75 million in savings by April 2021. This is in addition to the £300 million in savings that it has already had to make since 2009.

The survey runs until January 15, 2018.