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Task force calls for Suffolk County Council to restore annual £368,000 grant for Citizens Advice

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An independent task group assessing funding for the Citizens Advice network has called on Suffolk County Council to restore its £368,000 annual grant in full.

Despite performing a U-turn on proposals to axe funding entirely, the council appears to be unwilling to consider a full grant again.

Last year, the authority announced that it would cease its £368,000 annual grant, phased out over two years.

Endeavour House, Ipswich (27357545)
Endeavour House, Ipswich (27357545)

The clinical commissioning groups rescued the charity with a last-minute deal to provide funding of £184,000 for a year, before the county council announced it would provide £120,000 a year for the next three years from April 2020.

The proposed grant cut last year prompted a cross-council task force to be formed with the purpose of assessing future funding measures, which has now presented its final recommendations.

In the report, the task group, which featured input from all councils except East Suffolk, said: “The task and finish group recommend to the clinical commissioning groups and Suffolk County Council that they work together to ensure that, between them, a minimum of £368,000 is granted to Suffolk Citizens Advice annually beyond 2020/21.”

The district and borough councils, which also provide grant funding, are continuing to provide cash which totals more than £500,000 per year.

Despite the recommendations from the task force’s report, the county council has failed to commit to more funding.

Richard Rout, cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: “I appreciate the work that has gone into the report; we are all in agreement that Suffolk’s Citizens Advice network provides important services.

“I have met regularly with Suffolk branches over the last year and listened to their concerns.

“They have welcomed our proposed three-year funding settlement, which offers the stability they have been seeking.

“Our expectation is that, over this longer term, they can secure the transformation and additional funding sources that we believe are necessary and appropriate.

“As a funder, we are asking that Suffolk County Council’s key priorities are supported, like reporting on the number of clients presenting with domestic abuse, to those supported in making their homes more energy efficient.

“We believe that this is realistic and we look forward to supporting Suffolk’s Citizens Advice in the coming years.”