Bureau celebrates but fears for future funding

A VITAL community amenity has celebrated its 30th anniversary – at a time when the organisation’s future funding is unknown.

The Mid Suffolk Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) chose to use its annual general meeting – held at Stowmarket Community Centre, last Monday - as a celebration to mark its 30th birthday.

A large crowd, including CAB volunteers and councillors, turned out for the celebration and enjoyed a special 30th anniversary cake, refreshments and a talk by Cllr Pat Godden, a founding volunteer and former manager of the bureau.

The bureau, in Milton Road South, Stowmarket, has seen a drastic increase in the number of people seeking its help since it opened in 1981.

Compared to the previous year, 2010/2011 has seen a considerable rise, including an increase of 12 per cent in total bureau contacts, a 19 per cent rise in people with employment issues, a six per cent rise in those with benefit issues and a 19 per cent rise in people with housing issues.

But as a charity which receives vital funding from local government, the bureau’s future is unclear.

Carol Eagles, bureau manager, said: “Funding is a cause for concern in this current economy as we are a charity and reliant on grants and donations.

“All the councils are having to make cutbacks and we are unsure what our funding will be for 2012/2013.

“Many people do not realise we are a charity and are not government-funded.

“We have been reviewing all our expenditure and making cost savings wherever we possibly can.”

Last year, the bureau, which has 60 staff and volunteers, helped 3,500 clients.

Benefits advisers helped more than 120 clients claim almost £400,000 in welfare benefits, employment specialists represented 35 clients at employment tribunalsm winning almost £70,000 in compensation, and money advisers helped more than 200 clients to manage more than £4 million of debt.

For more information about the bureau, visit http://midsuffolkcab.org.uk/ or call 01449 676060 or 676280