Demand for CAB service rockets as funds slashed
1:00pm Thursday 17th January 2013 in News
THE number of people seeking help from Bolton Citizens’ Advice Bureau rocketed last year — as the service faces having its funding slashed by 75 per cent.
A report compiled by the Greater Manchester Poverty Commission revealed the number of people receiving specialist social welfare advice increased between 2011 and 2012. The biggest demand was for advice on: ● benefits—up 57.5 per cent.
● immigration or asylum — up 38.3 per cent.
● employment — up by 37.5 per cent.
● housing—up 29.2 per cent.
● social welfare law — up by 38 per cent.
The CAB compared numbers seeking its help in January 2011 with January 2012.
It found in January 2012 there were 500 people seeking help with benefits compared to 300 in 2011, and 150 people seeking immigration or asylum advice in 2012 compared to 100 in 2012.
Sixty people sought employment help in 2011, with 100 in 2012. And 80 sought housing advice in 2012 compared to 50 a year earlier. The report warned rising demand for CAB’s services had coincided with radical changes to statefunded legal aid due to come into force in April.
Legal aid accounts for 65 per cent of Bolton CAB’s funding and the changes could see its income fall from £800,000 to £200,000 because benefits advice and employment advice will no longer qualify for financial support.
From April council tax benefit reforms and the so-called “bedroom tax”, in which people on housing benefit living in social housing are penalised for having a spare bedroom, come into effect, with thousands of Bolton residents set to have benefits cut.
The CAB warned that of 63 clients given legal advice in one month this year, only 10 or 15 would qualify for help under the new rules.
The report said the CAB was also expecting a cut in council funding equivalent to 12-15 per cent of its income.
Bolton CAB chief executive Barry Lyon told The Bolton News: “We’re not going to be able to do as much work as we could on things like welfare benefits and debt — which are the two biggest areas we get enquires about.
“We won’t be able to help with employment advice and immigration.”