Citizens Advice Cornwall has secured funding from Cornwall Council for the next four years.

The agreement follows a high profile publicity campaign, which included a public petition signed by more than 4,000 people after the council’s initial proposal to cut the grant by more than 50% this year and reduce to zero in 2019.

The new proposal will still see a gradual reduction in council funding for Citizens Advice. Last year’s grant of £356k will be reduced to £336k for 2018/19. Funding for 2019/20 will be £316k and £296k for 2020/21 and 2021/22.

CA Cornwall Chief Executive, Neil Colquhoun, said: “This is a significantly better deal for Citizens Advice than that first proposed by Cornwall Council. I would like to thank the council’s leadership for adopting a flexible approach in negotiations and for listening to the weight of public opinion in the county.

“I would also like to thank the thousands of people who have supported our campaign. Our staff and volunteers hugely appreciate the many supportive comments we’ve received - it’s great to know we are such a valued service for so many people.”

Mr Colquhoun added: “While the funding from Cornwall Council helps secure our services for now, we know we face big challenges ahead and we’ll continue to look at ways to further improve and extend the ways we give advice to the public, including more outreach work and use of new technologies and media.

“The people of Cornwall can be assured we will do everything possible to provide the best service for the public when they need us.”

More than 600 people responded to a council survey, with many providing examples of how they use Citizens Advice Cornwall and the positive impact the service has had on them. An overwhelming number – more than 80% - supported the Council finding other ways of balancing the budget to maintain Citizens Advice services across Cornwall.
The council says it and CA Cornwall recognise the need and opportunity to modernise the service and provide more flexible access to advice for people in Cornwall, including those in remote and rural communities. The current funding of £356,000 will gradually reduce by £20,000 a year over the next three years as CA Cornwall helps more clients through telephone and digital advice services. 
Alongside this, the council will continue to provide premises for CA Cornwall in its St Austell One Stop Shop and work to find further premises where possible.  
Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Homes Andrew Mitchell said: “The council is having to take tough budget decisions as a result of Government cuts to our funding, and make £75 million of savings on top of the £300 million we have already delivered. 
We want people to have their say on these decisions and residents have been clear that they want the Council to continue funding CAC. While this will place further pressure on our budget, we are determined to make sure people across Cornwall can get the advice and support they need at a time when many are facing very real personal debt and welfare challenges under this Government’s austerity agenda.”
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.

The charity’s volunteer advisers provide advice and information on a wide range of issues such as debt, benefits claims, housing, employment, discrimination and consumer issues as well campaigning on subjects such as scam avoidance and energy tariffs. The service is free-of-charge, confidential, independent and impartial.