King’s Lynn to lose ‘lifeline’ CAB office

GV of the King's Lynn Citizens Advice Norfolk Branch in St Nicholas Street ANL-160327-122320009
GV of the King's Lynn Citizens Advice Norfolk Branch in St Nicholas Street ANL-160327-122320009
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The most vulnerable people in Lynn will be affected with the town’s Citizens Advice Bureau shuts its doors in the summer due to a loss of funding has warned a chief-executive.

Head of Norfolk CAB Steve Cheshire says it is an “absolute travesty” that the St Nicholas Street office will close on June 1.

He says the service will have to be substantially reduced after West Norfolk Council is withdrawing its £67,000 funding.

The council, which is re-tendering its advice contracts to look at housing and debt, is calling on the CAB to talk to them.

Mr Cheshire said: “I think it is an absolute travesty that this will be the only major town in the county that doesn’t have this kind of provision. It has a town with multiple levels of deprivation which surely suggests that it needs more than housing and debt support.

“I think the borough council will spend more money and there will be more debt, more council tax not being paid and more homelessness. I think more people with relationship problems will end up costing society a lot more money.

“I think these people will find themselves in huge difficulties and this will impact on the roofs over their heads.

“We have free access to a solicitor which we provide in partnership which will be at risk. We will end up with an ever poorer society.”

The CAB helps more than 2,000 people a year at the Lynn branch and also receives £55,000 from Norfolk County Council but needs £100,000 to run the branch.

The Lynn office already provide a debt advice service along with working with Shelter and the council on housing issues.

But Mr Cheshire says the “comprehensive” service also helps with issues such as employment, benefits, legal matters, health and social care along with consumer difficulties and bailiffs, immigration and Food Bank.

While no firm decision has been made on the future provision of the CAB, one idea is to open small outreach offices in other services such as Sure Start Centres or medical practices.

Mr Cheshire said: “I see people struggling with seasonal work, low pay and low hours. We have just made life tougher for them.”

Volunteers who man the office are now looking to start a petition to fight the closure.

Neil Fernley, who has been volunteering for the last month, said: “I have seen people coming in from all walks of life with various problems.

“This is a lifeline that will no longer be there.”

The council’s communities portfolio holder Adrian Lawrence said: “We are shocked and concerned at the news of the CAB closure in Lynn and I would encourage them to talk to us and all their funders to see if there is away forward.”