Thursday, 17 March 2011

On 9th March, in the House of Commons, it was pointed out at Prime Minister’s Questions that the Newcastle Citizens Advice Bureau dealt with more than 26,000 cases, supported by 75 volunteers, yet its budget has been slashed. Newcastle’s MP Catherine McKinnell asked “How can this shambolic situation possibly contribute towards the big society?”

David Cameron replied that the Government has made sure that the national funding for the CAB debt service has been maintained, and that is a vital part of it. He went on “I urge all local councils, whoever controls them - I have had this conversation with my own council - to make sure we do as much as we can to support CABs, which do such a vital job in our communities.”
I’d love Mr Cameron to have a word with OUR Council, because as has been well publicised, HDC plans to cut voluntary grants by 81% in two years – and the biggest recipient is Huntingdonshire CAB.

In addition, the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, has this to say: “In their approach to budget setting, the best councils are showing that they understand that a strong, thriving voluntary sector is more important now than ever and could be the key to providing high quality, good value services to their residents. But this is not the case everywhere. Councils that are failing to recognise the importance of the sector are being short sighted in their approach.”

I never thought I’d say this........but I agree with Eric!

In my view, HDC is being short-sighted, and whilst a review later this year may go towards a reduction in these cuts, a firm commitment to look more closely for other savings would give the voluntary sector more security.

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