More than 3,500 people have signed a public petition calling on Cornwall Council to abandon plans to cut its grant to Citizens Advice by more than 50%.
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 would mean the charity having to close seven of its nine offices across the county and drastically reduce the number of staff and volunteers available to give advice.

Chair of Citizens Advice Cornwall Trustees, Sue Swift, said: “We are very grateful to all the members of the public who have signed our ongoing petition to the council – it’s great to know we are such a valued service to so many people and we really appreciate all the support we have received so far.

“We now need to keep the pressure on the council so we can continue to provide help and advice for the thousands of people who come to us every month struggling with issues such as benefits claims, debt, housing, employment issues and discrimination.”

The proposed cuts come just before the rollout of the Government’s Universal Credit welfare reform in Cornwall later this year.

Last year Citizens Advice Cornwall dealt with 19,000 cases at offices from Bude and Saltash to Penzance and helped gain £4.2 million in income for people in the county while also writing-off a total of £5.8 million in debt.

Members of the public can sign the petition on (search for Citizens Advice Cornwall on their website) or sign the paper version at any of CA Cornwall’s offices in Saltash, Bude, Liskeard, Bodmin, Newquay, St Austell, Truro, Falmouth and Penzance.

Some of the supportive quotes from members of the public left on the website this from MM in Truro. “I have had personal experience of the service and it was a godsend to me and my family. This service should truly be counted as another emergency service in times of dire need.”
While JS from Wendron said: “I believe in the Citizens Advice Service - I have been helped by them on several occasions and found their advice invaluable.”

Cornwall Council says it is carrying out a survey to ask for views on how it helps fund Citizens Advice Cornwall (CAC) now and in the future.

The survey is being carried out to gauge how and when residents use CAC and the impact their service has had on them.

Cornwall Council says it 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 achieved since 2009.

It was originally proposed that the council’s grant to CAC be stopped altogether to help achieve some of these savings however, the current budget proposes that the level of funding from Cornwall Council to CAC is set at £153,000 for the next three years.

Cornwall Council leader Adam Paynter said:  “We are proposing to reinstate a grant to CAC as we recognise that austerity and things like the roll out of Universal Credit have a big impact on our communities.  To help us make decisions about funding, we are asking residents to let us know how and when they have used the services of CAC in the past two years.  We want to know how useful residents have found the advice, information and general advocacy service that CAC provides to communities in Cornwall.”

He adds: “The council is facing the unenviable challenge of having to decide which services to deliver and how to deliver them with less budget.  The only way to do this effectively is to do things differently and make changes in how we work and how we contribute to other organisations and get the best value for money.  We are continuing to talk to CAC about the way forward. A final decision on the Council’s budget will be made by members in February 2018.”