I write as newly elected trustee and vice chairman of Citizens Advice Craven and Harrogate (the amalgamation of the three offices of Ripon, Harrogate and Skipton).
Pat Shore has made the clear point that with reduced funding the Ripon Citizens Advice Office is at risk of closing.
When the news broke that Harrogate Borough Council would be unable to sustain its historic funding of Citizens Advice in its area as it had in the recent past, the possible knock-on effect may not have been fully appreciated here in Ripon.
Writing as new to the running of Citizens Advice, I have been shocked to discover how precarious is its funding.
Government regularly advises people to turn to their local CAB office – eg last Friday morning Radio 4 on energy supplies. Friday evening BBC News ran a feature highlighting the CAB’s part in helping people grapple with benefits.
Consumer issues, housing, debt counselling are examples of the vital services provided by Citizens Advice.
Detailed studies have demonstrated that for every pound of funding a saving is made to the community of substantially more than that. In short, it more than pays its way.
The point is that Citizens Advice, although a registered charity, should be regarded more as an essential agency, complimenting national and local Government and the justice system.
Of course money is tight in times of austerity. However, it is in times of austerity that people have most need of the services that Citizens Advice provides.
The issue, therefore, is not what share of available money should be allocated to Citizens Advice, but rather how it is to be properly funded so that it can continue to provide a proper and professional service to its clients.
In my view, people who live in the Ripon area need a Citizens Advice Bureau, so the question of how its service is funded needs to be addressed as a matter of the utmost urgency.
Vice chairman, Craven and Harrogate District Citizens Advice Bureau