I attended the quarterly CAB management meeting this evening, this week being an exceptionally busy week.
The meeting was extremely interesting, with further evidence of the mirage of the Big Society and the real struggle people are living with here in rural Somerset.
The CAB in Shepton has seen a 10% increase in new clients in the previous eight months, this equates to 721 people/families. These increases about 60% (800 cases a yr)are increasing in debt problems and 35% (300 cases a yr)are employment problems. Shepton bureau are now receiving more enquires than Wells, this a fairly new phenomenon.
This year Shepton's CAB has received money for Additional Hours this to fund Wednesday opening, this will cease at the end of this financial year, due to the removal of this funding stream.
The funding for the Mendip Advocacy scheme that gives advice to those people with mental health issues will cease at the end of this financial yr, this due to the funding stream drying up, the CAB will try to find other funding streams, but if this unsuccessful, then these vulnerable people will have to come to the CABs or through other carers.
The CABs offer Community Legal Advice, this to offer people with legal advice on debt, welfare benefits and housing advice, this in partnership with BANES CAB and Will Rolt Solicitors, this took the Mendip CAB a lot of time and much hard work, for the benefit of local people who needs to access the law.
Sadly this service will be axed in the next 12 - 18 months, along with legal aid for family and domestic violence and homelessness, more cuts that hurt the most vulnerable people in our big society.
The CAB awaits the next three year funding from the County and District councils.
Despite all these cuts to various projects the CAB will continue to offer a tremendous service.
I would recommend any worker not in a trade union to join one, they offer legal support, even if your employer won't recognise them, they have solicitors to take an employer who over step the law to an employment tribunal.
Tomorrow, I have a Town Council meeting and a Whitstone governors meeting.