Axe may fall on Wrexham help service as funding dries up

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

WREXHAM Citizens Advice Bureau is heading for a major financial crisis which could see services cut and jobs lost.

Its chief executive Gaynor Roberts says while the demand for services has never been higher, they face an ongoing battle for cash to keep the operation afloat.

She predicts that if more financial backing cannot be secured there will have to be a “dramatic” reduction in the overall service towards the end of next year, along with the loss of six jobs.

The office in Grosvenor Road costs around £400,000 a year to run.

While funding comes from a number of sources, including Wrexham Council, the CAB gets a quarter of this – about £100,000 – from the Legal Services Commission to pay for the welfare benefits advice and debt counselling it provides to hundreds of clients each year.

However, the commission has announced it will no longer pay the CAB nationally to provide this service from the end of 2012.

Gaynor Roberts said: “That is our largest source of funding and allows us to employ four specialist advisers for that type of advice.

“If its stops it will mean a big drop in our income.

“We would definitely have to lose our four specialist advisers and because of the effect it would have on our overall funding we would probably have to make two more advisers redundant out of the total of 10 we employ who are experts in different subjects.

“We would also have to drastically cut down on the number of hours our volunteer advisers provide.”

She added: “This all comes at a time when demand for our services has never been higher.

“The number of people coming through our door or ringing the office for advice every day has risen considerably over the past 12 months.

“The subjects people need help with is mostly employment, debt and benefits, which is a direct result of the recession.

“Sometimes it is standing room only in the office and we often have people queuing outside to see advisers.

“In fact, when we came in one morning recently there was an old lady sitting on a camping stool in the car park with tea in a flask.

“She had been sitting there for hours waiting for us to open.

“I am fighting to keep the doors of this office open and applying for every source of finance I can but by the end of this year we will be in a crisis if we don’t get the funding we need.”

Wrexham CAB has an open day on Friday, from 10am-2pm, at which staff, volunteers and trustees will tell members of the public of the job they do and how they are battling to cope with increased demand for the service.

See full story in the Leader

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