Cuts in funding from the Legal Service Commission will result in Eastbourne losing a vital debt advice service at the end of this month (March).
The Commission has funded the Money Advice Service at Eastbourne Citizens Advice Bureau since 2000. Thousands of people have been given free help in managing and finding their way out of crippling debt problems. However, cuts in government spending on legal aid mean that the Bureau loses its funding for Money Advice from the end of March. Two members of staff will lose their jobs.
Money Advice has been one of the most sought after services at the Bureau, especially since the financial crash of 2008. Last year the trained staff saw 295 clients with debts totalling £3m. The Bureau is deeply concerned that the most needy of clients will suffer.
In last year’s Bureau Annual Report Money Advice Caseworker Trish Elder stated, “Whilst there are organisations available that will deal over the phone with clients in debt, it is the face-to-face counselling that can make all the difference. The loss of the Money Advice Services within CABs and other providers who run Legal Services contracts will be hugely detrimental to local communities.”
The Bureau is currently exploring alternative sources of funding to try to continue providing face to face debt advice. If this proves unsuccessful clients with debt issues will in future be given basic advice by trained volunteer advisers, but will be directed to other agencies for more specialist help.
An Eastbourne Borough Council spokesperson said, “The CAB plays a hugely important role in the town and any reductions in service due to external funding reductions are most regrettable.
“Despite significant financial pressures and ever increasing funding applications from other organisations in the town, the council continues to maintain our grant support to the CAB as we recognise the important role they play in supporting residents. Additionally, the council has been working with other local authorities in East Sussex to secure new financial support for debt advice services across the area.”