Chinese New Year dinner in aid of Citizens Advice as charity faces funding cut

Suffolk West Citizens Advice is preparing for a  Chinese New Year Dinner in early March''Pictured: Vincent McDonald (Trustee at CAB Suffolk West), Cllr Patrick Chung and Tony Howard (Manages fundraising and PR at CAB)''''PICTURE: Mecha Morton
Suffolk West Citizens Advice is preparing for a Chinese New Year Dinner in early March''Pictured: Vincent McDonald (Trustee at CAB Suffolk West), Cllr Patrick Chung and Tony Howard (Manages fundraising and PR at CAB)''''PICTURE: Mecha Morton
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Citizens Advice Suffolk West is gearing up for a Chinese New Year dinner to raise vital funds - as the charity faces a cut to its council grant.

The event at West Suffolk College’s Edmunds restaurant on March 2 will feature cuisine cooked under the guidance of a top London Chinese chef and entertainment by Chinese dancers.

The charity organised a similar event last year and kickstarted a series of activities which raised more than £5,000 for the volunteer supported service.

Citizens Advice charities are facing a £20,000 funding cut from Suffolk County Council for 2018-19 – an average of just over £2,000 for each of the nine charities in Suffolk.

Andrew Stringer, deputy leader of Suffolk’s Liberal Demorat, Green and Independent Group, hit out at the move.

He said: “Suffolk County Council is supposed to protect our vulnerable residents but cutting funding to Citizens Advice Bureaux is doing the exact opposite.

“These charities provide a lifeline to people across Suffolk – but they can’t do it without the financial support of the council.”

To reduce the impact on the service, the council says it plans to inject £6,000 from its reserves as well as an additional amount for inflation.

Jane Ballard, manager of Citizens Advice Suffolk West, said they had ‘always really appreciated’ the financial support from the council and were aware the authority was ‘under increasing pressure to reduce expenditure’.

“However, with the need to reduce funding there is always a worry that to some degree services will also need to be reduced, and we will do our best to make up this shortfall,” she said.

“We know that this is never easy, which is why we continue to fund-raise for our service.”

Carol Eagles, manager of Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk, expressed her gratitude for council funding but noted itsgrant was ‘now at the same level that it was seven years ago in 2012’. She said: “Our advice will always be impartial and free, and while this is best for our clients it does restrict our options for raising funds.”

With the full roll out of Universal Credit in Mid Suffolk in May, it expects more people will need advice and is looking for new volunteers.

Cllr Matthew Hicks, the council’s cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: “Citizens Advice services receive income from a number of sources and even before the council’s reserves and inflation are taken into account, the total reduction in funding across all services will be less than one per cent of the current income.”

As part of Big Energy Saving Week, Suffolk West will be in Bury St Edmunds’ Tesco on Wednesday, January 24, from 10am to 2pm to talk about energy costs and the help available.

Mid Suffolk will hold an energy clinic on Thursday, January 25, from 9.30am to 6.30pm at its office, in Milton Road South, Stowmarket.

Tickets for the dinner, priced £39, are available from www.eventbrite.co.uk or from Citizens Advice, in Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds.