Herald Opinion: Reduced service from CAB very bad news for Eastbourne

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THE difficulties confronting Eastbourne Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) make for worrying reading.

Fortunately, the Bureau is not facing the plight of some around the country, where reduced support from the public sector has led to closures.

But a reduced service from our CAB would be very bad news for the town.

The Bureau and its volunteers helps thousands of local people through the year with a wide range of problems.

Many of those it sees are the town’s disadvantaged, who struggle with the systems of state.

But that is not exclusively the case.

The recession and its aftermath has been a great leveller, and the CAB’s clients have included the hitherto comfortably off, confronted by loss of job and home.

The Eastbourne Bureau has sought to maximise its service in recent years to meet increasing demands for help.

This has stretched its financial resources to a point where its reserves are dwindling rapidly.

Hence the need to cut costs.

A fundamental problem for the CAB is the perception of many people who believe it to be a branch of local or national government.

It is not. It is a local charity which must find its own funds.

Sadly, beyond public sector grants – notably Eastbourne Borough Council – little comes from the business and community sources in Eastbourne which generously support other local good causes.

If the Bureau has to reduce its service it will leave many people with distress and hardship that might otherwise be alleivated by sound advice and direction.

If there was ever a case for the Big Society to come to the fore – in the form of fund-raising assistance – this is it.