Cash crisis for the CAB

PUBLISHED: 11:50 05 July 2007 | UPDATED: 12:35 04 May 2010

VULNERABLE people across East Cambridgeshire could be left without vital cash aid after the county council decided there was no more money to fund their benefits advice service. Councillors have pulled the plug on funding the benefits service provided by

VULNERABLE people across East Cambridgeshire could be left without vital cash aid after the county council decided there was no more money to fund their benefits' advice service.

Councillors have pulled the plug on funding the benefits service provided by Ely Citizens' Advice Bureau, leaving a £21,000 gap in its finances.

The move comes despite the service, which offered help to elderly and disabled people in their own homes, being so successful that an extra £320,000 in Government cash was claimed in the district in the last two years.

Now CAB staff fear that many people will not claim money to which they are entitled because they have difficult filling in complicated forms. And they are worried that elderly people, claiming attendance allowance to stay in their own homes, could be forced into residential care.

If the CAB cannot find alternative funding by September, it will have to shut down the Soham outreach service and make the specially appointed benefits' advice officer redundant.

It is hoped that services for the elderly in Littleport and Sutton will be protected.

"This is a huge drop in funding for a small charity like ours," said Ely CAB manager, Beverley Howard. "This could have serious consequences for the most vulnerable people in our community - the elderly, disabled and young families - who rely on the home visiting service because they can't get into Ely.

"We are extremely disappointed by this decision. Unless we can find alternative funding, the Soham outreach service will have to go."

Cambridgeshire County Cllr Geoff Heathcock, Liberal Democrat spokesman for health and adult social care, said: "Cutting funding will leave vulnerable people without access to the independent advice they need.

"Over 40 percent of the CAB's clients have disabilities or mental health difficulties. Where will these people turn in the future?

"It is laughable that the county council can't afford this investment to help the poorest people in our community."

Cambridgeshire county councillor Fred Yeulett said: "When the service started it was a win win situation for us. We received extra grant for the number of benefit claimants we introduced. Now the Government has narrowed the amount of grant we receive, making it no longer viable.

"The pressures on the council budget wide are extreme and we have to make tough decisions.

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