Cuts: we will not take this lying down!
Independent community advice services are bearing the brunt of spending cuts in many areas. However, there are some noteable local authorities that have decided to protect and indeed enhance funding for advice: For example, Brighton & Hove, Northamptonshire County and Oxford Councils. They have set a good example for others.
Massive public sector job losses and £18bn welfare benefit cuts and proposed reforms will see demand for advice on benefits, debt and housing soar. At the same time, cuts of at least 7.1% per year in local authority spending, plus proposals for £350m of legal aid cuts mean far less funding advice. All this will all hit the poor and vulnerable disproportionately. It will hinder or stop the preventative work of community advice services that could save £millions. It will stifle the voice that such services give to people dealing with authority and bureaucracy. What part of the ‘Big Society’ vision does that fit into?
AdviceUK has made it a priority to campaign for local authorities to protect community advice provision and for the Government to preserve its funding of social welfare advice under legal aid. We are working with other organisations, members, networks and the general public in the Justice for All campaiogn coalition. Click here to find out more.
We have also produced a Campaign Pathway for advice services to help you to plan local activity. Click here to access this and other resources.
58% of Advice Services Will be Cut - Will Yours?
A survey of AdviceUK members commenced in summer has found that 41% have had funding cuts already and 58% expect cuts to be made to next years funding. 71% are subject to a review of voluntary sector or advice funding.
Quick Cuts Survey Questions
We have a new, quick on-line survey to gather the latest cuts picture. This is vital information for national campaigns. Please help us by spending 5-10 minutes to complete our questionnaire. We're simply asking if you have had cuts, expect cuts, about funder type, percentage cuts/value and briefly, how it will affect your service/organisation. Click here to start the survey.
Bring cuts to the attention of politicians
A key campaign strategy will be bringing the effects of the cuts to the attention of local MPs and councillors. Encourage your clients to do this too. Some members have taken pre-emptive action to lobby local politicians. One example is Brighton Housing Trust, which has written to its local MP, highlighting the effects of cuts in funding for advice and the value for money that advice services provide. BHT has kindly allowed us to make the letter available for other members to use as a template - download this below. You will find other useful resources and templates (with a legal aid cuts focus) on the My Legal web site.
Some golden rules for writing to local politicians are:
- keep it short and to the point
- use case studies, examples and facts to illustrate your case
- appeal to the particular personal interests of the politician, including the impact the cuts might have on their vote or surgery
- ask the politician to do something - ask a parliamentary question, meet with/visit you, write to the Minister, make a public statement etc
Practical resources and support
We have also prioritised supporting members to cope with the financial climate. Strength in Advice - sharp tools for tough times, a practical guide is available now, click here to find out more.
A new NAVCA and Cabinet Office paper 'Better Together', while focusing on preparing for the cuts rather than challenging them, explores key principles including the need for collaboration and robust evidence. It may be useful to bring this guide to the attention of funders if you need to challenge proposed cuts. Click here to find out more.
Citizens Advice has produced a brieging on the Comprehensive spending review and what it means for people. Click here for more.
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