The board of the Sleaford and District Citizen’s Advice Bureau is considering a merger or closing working ties with the Boston CAB in an effort to cope with growing demand and diminishing funding.
Sleaford’s chief officer Debra Lee told The Standard that the future of the service is both ‘ambitious and realistic’ while promising to put first those locally who will need access to free advice.
Over the next few months the boards of the two CABs will be considering everything from sharing best practice to a formal merger. Mrs Lee said final decisions will not be made until later in the year but insisted they will result in more efficient and economical back office functions with sustained and improved front line services.
The cuts to public spending following the 2008 financial crash and recession have had a huge impact on local services and clients, she said. “In broad terms, we’ve managed to keep our funding constant and even grow it in places through winning new contracts to replace income that has dried up and by finding new sources of income and delivering services in more efficient and inventive ways.”
However she envisaged another four years of Government-led spending cuts ahead, adding: “Commissioners and funders are continuing to expect more for less and many of our traditional partners have had to cut back services or find new ways of doing things. Some have disappeared entirely. This has meant that certain excluded groups or those facing discrimination need our help more than ever.”
They have created partnerships that will continue to be even more important for securing funding and for giving clients more choice about how they access advice services.
Lincolnshire CAB branches have already responded by developing Adviceline, the CAB telephone advice service.