This may not be the first such announcement, but it is certainly the biggest to date. Birmingham Citizens Advice has had £600,00 per year of Local Authority funding cut. Unless alternative funding of £50,000 per month is found, it will close its generalist advice centres from 11 February 2011.
The CAB claims that they assisted 56,000 people last year and it is the largest CAB in the country. They estimate that they assisted clients in applying for or appeallng decision on income of about £16 million and to manage about £85 million of debt.
Transition funds will not be accessible in time and Birmingham City Council ‘replacement’ funds – a much smaller pot open to bids from 14 charities, to be allocated in £50,000 blocks over 1 to 3 years – will not be available in any event until August 2011.
The CAB are urgently asking for donations to fund them in the short term while they attempt to secure longer term funds.
My understanding is that the Social Welfare law contract (joint with Shelter) and the ‘preventing homelessness’ advice at the County Court (not the duty scheme as first suggested – that is run by CLP) are not directly affected. However, there are surely intertwined economics of provision even if just in terms of office space, admin support and facilities.
Birmingham Council, a ConDem coalition, appear to be blithely ignoring the DCLG recommendations that Councils should not take the easy option and cut funding to the voluntary sector. One takes it that Grant Shapps and Eric Pickles will be very disappointed in Brum (but take no action at all).
[Update: Birmingham City Council respond that
“We’ve always made it clear to agencies that funding was not guaranteed beyond any single year, up to a maximum of three years. It was never our intention for agencies to become dependent upon this source of funding, or that it form their sole source of income. However, we did pay CAB £150,000 notice payment”.
That first sentence has the dubious distinction of making no sense whatsoever. On ‘dependency’, the CAB point out that the £600,000 was 20% of their funding, but that they can’t afford to lose 20% when funding from other sources is also dropping by £1.2 million for 2011. The income was £3 milion in 2009/10.]