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Attempt to call in Suffolk County Council's decision to cut Citizens Advice funding fails

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Endeavour House, Ipswich (7026868)
Endeavour House, Ipswich (7026868)

A challenge to plans to axe funding to Citizens Advice at Suffolk County Council has failed to gain traction.

The Labour and Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent groups united to call in the decision made by cabinet to cut £368,000 of grant funding to Citizens Advice over two years.

If successful, a council monitoring officer would have been asked to rule on whether the correct process had been followed.

The opposition groups claimed the council had made the decision before the results of an equality impact assessment (EIA) had been published – a document which analyses the impact a new policy will have.

But the council’s monitoring officer confirmed that, as the final decision still had to be made by full council, and the cabinet proposals would be the subject to a full debate, no process was breached.

Peter Gardiner, the Labour councillor who called in the decision, said: “The cut to Citizens Advice will have a massive impact.

“Citizens Advice do tremendous work in providing early intervention services that mean people get the right help at the right time.

“The equality impact assessment shows that there is no plan B for Citizens Advice. The council is simply washing its hands of those who need the service.

“By releasing the EIA after the meeting, there has been no chance for the CAB to respond and, therefore, cabinet cannot have been in full possession of the facts.”

The matter will be debated by full council on February 14 and, if approved, will come into effect in April.

Richard Rout, Conservative cabinet member for environment and public protection, hailed the great efforts made by Citizens Advice staff and volunteers in their work, but said there were ways it could continue to provide a good level of service across Suffolk.