Citizens Advice branch forced to close after funding cut
- Credit: Denise Bradley
Norfolk Citizens Advice says it had "no choice" but to close one of its offices after a council stopped funding its services.
On Thursday, April 1, the charity permanently closed its "much needed service" in Wymondham as it could no longer afford to continue.
Citizens Advice said it used to receive £22,500 annually from South Norfolk District Council (SNDC) to help its team of volunteers in the town support more than 2,200 residents per year.
The authority confirmed it had ended its funding for the service more than a year ago – a decision it says it made to "reduce duplication of services and to protect and build on the huge success of the council's Help Hub", which responded to 18,000 requests for help in the last year.
A council spokesperson said: "The Hub approach makes it much easier for vulnerable people to access the range of services and help they need at the time they need it without having to re-tell their story to multiple agencies.
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"It is important that people can access the help and services that they require as early as possible to prevent problems from escalating and becoming more difficult to deal with.
"Partners in the Hub can help families access a wide range of support and following just one contact they can access welfare and debt advice alongside all the other help available."
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The council added it had worked with Citizens Advice to arrange a reduction in rent and business rates in the last year "to make the transition as easy as possible".
But Jon Cheyette, chief executive of Norfolk Citizens Advice, was critical of SNDC's decision.
He said: "Despite repeated attempts to seek clarification from SNDC about the information they used to make their decision to cut our funding, no satisfactory response has been received.
"We really don't want to stop providing this service as we know how important it is to local people, but without the funding from SNDC we cannot continue.
"The town and the district stand to lose the expert knowledge and dedication of the most amazing team of volunteers and one member of staff who between them provide an exceptional service."