This is an issue very close to the heart of Yr Obdt Srvt, for reasons that will be outlined after the excerpt. Here’s Tomas Davidson:
Ever more regularly I hear phrases like “austerity”, “rationalisation” and “deficit” bandied about in social parlance, a backdrop for pub conversations, the soundtrack to staff room lunch hours, but rarely do I pay it much attention. In fact, apart from some ill-informed lambasting of our financial system (normally after a few ales) I barely even think about it.
I can no longer disregard these terms as abstract notions, small-scale concerns that bubble around quietly in my subconscious but must recognise them for what they are; real threats to the lives and liberties of the most vulnerable in our society. I know this because I know what is going to happen to the Citizens Advice Bureau.
The latest austerity measures, however, are set to toll the death knell for the Citizens Advice Bureau in Manchester. Manchester City Council are proposing cuts to advice services of 50-75%. This, on top of the removal of the majority of legal aid contracts, will be one wound too many for the charity.
If the proposals go ahead, the already stretched service will face total dissolution. The three remaining bureaus in Manchester will be forced to close, the city wide telephone advice service will go dead and the outreach services will stop. Redundancies will abound.
In my opinion CAB are being shut down by jargon. Language is being used to tell a powerful political story that convinces us that spending cuts are a necessary evil, used to excuse social injustice, and to justify deprivation and despair. Shut down people’s means of expressing their dissatisfaction and you effectively silence them.
“Austerity”, “rationalisation” and “deficit” – it’s a gagging order.
Read the rest on RealFare.
This is a subject that’s very close to home. Mrs Mike has had good reason to be grateful to Powys CAB in recent years.
Powys Citizens Advice Bureau was threatened with the loss of all of its funding from Powys County Council at the beginning of the (calendar) year, but a strong campaign to raise awareness, not only of what the CAB is and does, but also of the huge value of its service to communities across the county, managed to provoke a rethink and in the end the council only cut 15 per cent of its funding.
The campaign involved a petition signed by voters (inevitably), and a considerable number of meetings with county council staff and members, including not only the decision makers in the cabinet but also the ‘backbench’ councillors whose reluctance to support the cuts agenda forced a last-minute rethink at the top table and bought the CAB its reprieve.
That being said, Powys CAB is facing the possibility of another county council cut this year. Council officers seem to misunderstand the fact that cuts to the core grant mean all CAB services are threatened, including those on which those same council officers rely, working in tandem with the bureau. It has become vital to keep reminding them of the facts every year, until budgets become less tight.
Let’s hope that day isn’t too far away – for the sake of everyone who needs the best advice service provided in the UK.
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