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We call on Manchester City Council to reconsider their proposals to cut funding to advice services and the community & voluntary sector.

This petition had 2,606 supporters

Manchester City Council announced its proposed budget cuts for 2015/2016 on 12th November. 

These proposals outline major funding cuts of 50 – 75% to advice services and the voluntary and community sector. They including ceasing all funding for the City Wide Universal Advice Service currently delivered by Manchester Citizens Advice Bureau and Cheetham Hill Advice Centre which helps over 30,000 people per year.

The proposed cuts will mean the closure of:

  • The three CAB located in Moston, Moss Side and Wythenshawe – these provide trusted face to face support and assistance to access online services and Freephone access to our advice line and other services.

  • The City Wide Telephone Advice Service – this currently deals with over 3,500 calls per month.

  • The Face to Face outreach service – this service takes advice to vulnerable groups and individuals at 32 venues in their local community such as GP Surgeries, Libraries and Children Centres.

The City Council proposes to replace the current City Wide service with a significantly smaller service which will only deal with Private Sector tenants.

The City Council has also assumed that the advice needs of those living in social housing will be met by the city’s Social Landlords. However this demand is not currently met by the City Wide Service and Social Landlords combined. There is no provision under the proposals for anyone not falling into these two housing groups.  

The level of these cuts will seriously risk many of the advice services ability to operate and it will remove access to free advice for the vast majority of Manchester residents. Many of the advice services and voluntary & community groups can only exist because the funding they receive from the City Council provides their basic infrastructure costs. This in turn enables them to bid for and secure additional funding which then extends their service and the number of people it can help. This opportunity to bring new funding into the city to support more people at a time when the voluntary sector is being asked to do more will be lost.

The bedroom tax and other welfare reforms has resulted in more and more people struggling financially. The most vulnerable are the most affected. They cannot afford to pay all their bills or in some cases have enough money to eat or heat their home. The demand on food banks is increasing as is the use of payday loans or doorstep lenders as a means of getting by. Funding for other local services is also being reduced. The introduction of Universal Credit is a major change to the benefits system which will be a further upset for people who are already scared and struggling.

Funding to advice services has been progressively reduced in the past 5 years and combined with the reduction in Legal Aid this has severely limited access to free advice.

These proposed cuts will mean the majority of people will have no access to independent advice services and there will be no safety net for the vulnerable people currently helped by the Universal Advice Service and other voluntary sector organisations. The people of Manchester need to have advice services that are adequately funded and effective and an advice sector that is able to raise additional funding for the city.

If there was ever a time when these services were needed it is now!

We call on Manchester City Council to reconsider their proposals to cut funding to advice services and to instead provide a level of funding that will meet the needs of the people of Manchester.

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