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Ipswich to lobby for county Citizens Advice funding to be restored

PUBLISHED: 08:39 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:39 03 January 2020

Staff and volunteers from Suffolk branches of Citizens Advice outside Endeavour House, Ipswich, in 2019. Picture: NELLEKE VAN HELFTEREN

Staff and volunteers from Suffolk branches of Citizens Advice outside Endeavour House, Ipswich, in 2019. Picture: NELLEKE VAN HELFTEREN

NELLEKE VAN HELFTEREN

Ipswich council is set to lobby for Citizens Advice funding from county council to be restored to its former levels.

Sandra Gage said it was Sandra Gage said it was "blindingly obvious" Suffolk County Council need to revise its offer. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

A cross-county task group published its findings last week which found that the Citizens Advice Bureaux in the county brought an economic benefit of £48.1million.

The group was formed after Suffolk County Council announced swingeing cutbacks last year, which would see the £368,000 grant be axed over two years.

While the county council now plans to restore £120,000 a year from April, Ipswich Borough Council's scrutiny committee has formally decided to present a recommendation to the countywide task group on Tuesday calling for the county council and clinical commissioning groups between them to maintain £368,000 a year.

Sandra Gage, deputy chairman of the borough council's planning committee who is also a member of the task group, said: "I have seen clear evidence on the undisputable value of Suffolk's CABs, both to the individuals it supports and the national and local governments.

"In the same budget it is proposing the £120,000 grant, SCC is proposing an increase in its unallocated reserves of £7.7m.

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"I personally think if we look at the economic value per pound that this county receives it seems blindingly obvious to me that Suffolk County Council should bee looking again at its offer."

Ms Gage pointed to the contributions of the county's district and borough councils - upwards of £500,000 combined - as proof that those authorities were taking the matter seriously.

The county council's budget is only in its first draft, and must be signed off by scrutiny, cabinet and full council committees before it is approved.

Gordon Jones, county council cabinet member for finance said the CAB grant of £120,000 per year was dependent on the bureaux becoming financially stable without the authority's grant within three years.

He added that the £120,000 was able to be included as the settlement from central government was more favourable than previous years.

The task group has yet to formally make any recommendations, with each of the county's scrutiny committees set to decide how to pursue the matter.

If all of those authorities recommended lobbying the county council for a revised offer, it could be drawn up as a recommendation from the task force's future meetings.

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