Citizens’ Advice Bureaux threatened with the axe in Birmingham could still be saved when a crunch meeting to discuss funding takes place on Monday, an MP has insisted.
John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) said the city council was ready to provide funding so they could keep their doors open.
He was speaking in a Commons debate as Labour MPs from across Birmingham condemned the authority for “cruel incompetence” in taking away funding for the service.
And even Government Minister Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat member of the coalition, said he was “concerned that hasty decisions taken by councils now could lead to the loss of citizens advice services not just in Birmingham but elsewhere”.
City council funding for Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) offices in the city centre, Kingstanding, Tyseley, Handsworth and Northfield ends on March 31 and a replacement fund, from which CAB can bid, will not be available until August at the earliest.
As a result, Birmingham CAB has warned it will be forced to close the offices for at least four months and were due to close the offices this week.
Mr Hemming claimed: “In fact there is a proposal to make interim funding available and that to be fair I have discussed with the CAB themselves.”
But the council’s actions were condemned by MPs including Jack Dromey (Lab Erdington), who had requested the debate. He said: “Birmingham has been hard hit with the highest unemployment in the West Midlands
“But just at the time people needed someone to go for advice and support, all five Citizen’s Advice Bureaux will close.
“It’s a combination of the callous cuts made by the government to local government services in Birmingham and the cruel incompetence of the council.”
Gisela Stuart (Lab Edgbaston) said for many residents there would be nowhere else to go for advice if the CAB offices closed.
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