Outreach services for Ashfield facing chop

09-2283-5'Chief Executive of  Ashfield CAB Sue Davis
09-2283-5'Chief Executive of Ashfield CAB Sue Davis

BOSSES at Ashfield’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) face cutting a vital outreach service and reducing sessions in Sutton because of a dramatic grant reduction from Nottinghamshire County Council.

The move follows a decision taken on 4th March by the council’s deputy leader Martin Suthers to approve a decision to reduce their grant aid handouts to the CAB from £37,018 this financial year to £14,285 for 2011/12.

But former coalfield areas such as Ashfield, Mansfield, Ollerton and Bassetlaw will receive a one-off top-up of an additional £6,250 to help minimise the cut impacts, while they plan their future budgets.

The funding from the council helps Ashfield CAB fund outreach services in Hucknall and Selston – but these will be lost because of the reduction in funding and a member of staff will be made redundant.

And to make matters worse, funding from the PCT and the Big Lottery’s Fair Share scheme for outreach services in Kirkby and the Carsic, Leamington and New Cross areas of Sutton is also coming to an end.

The service currently runs four advice sessions at the branch’s Market Street office four mornings a week – but this is set to be cut to just three.

Ashfield CAB chief executive Sue Davis said: “We will keep fighting and we will keep looking for funding because this is all going to happen again in a year’s time.

“But you have to stay resilient because the community needs it – because our demand is not diminishing.”

The decision to cut the council’s grant aid contributions has also been criticised by Sutton county councillor Steve Carroll.

He said: “I am concerned that Ashfield CAB have had a swinging cut and will lose over £16,000 this year – with the sting in the tail that they will lose even more in the following financial year, which I estimate to be in excess of £22,000.  

“During the recent budget meeting I spoke out against these cuts and the way that the Conservative-controlled County Council was damaging the voluntary sector.”

Last week, deputy council leader Martin Suthers said: “We have acted quickly following the agreement of the council’s overall budget for 2011/12 to give the county’s voluntary sector enough notice before the final grants are awarded from 1st April.

“We are feeling the pinch due to reduced Government grants and increasing demand for a number of critical services that we carry out.

“For this reason, the overall grant aid funding pot has been reduced, but we have allocated an extra £450,000 since the original funding proposal to reduce the impact on local groups in response to consultation feedback.

“We have worked hard to keep the reductions in grant aid affecting children and young people to a minimum to help ensure the next generation has a good start in life and is set on the right track for the future.

“With the largest funding area aimed at adult social care and health we have targeted the funding towards the most vulnerable and those most in need such as people with physical and mental disabilities and people affected by domestic violence.

“We are keen to work with voluntary groups affected by a reduction in grants to ensure they make the most of their money and help them make the necessary savings whilst protecting their frontline service.

“To ensure maximum value for money for Nottinghamshire residents, we will also be monitoring how grant aid is used by the groups that benefit across the county.”