Funding cut threatens Cornwall Citizens Advice offices

Nearly all Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) centres in Cornwall could be forced to close, if plans to more than halve its funding go ahead.

Cornwall Council wants to cut the CAB funding by 54% from £356,000 to £153,000.

The original proposal - to scrap the funding entirely - was "too harsh", the leader of the council said.

If the cuts go ahead, seven of CAB's nine centres are likely to close and a number of staff will lose their jobs.

Paul Charlesworth, a trustee for the charity, said there was "no alternative" if the funding was cut.

'Unsettling time'

"If we're forced into shutting these seven offices, the best we can hope to achieve is to see 10,000 clients," he said.

"That's going to leave about 9,000 people in Cornwall - and these are generally at the bottom of the social scale - without anywhere to go.

Mr Charlesworth said the charity typically assisted people in financial difficulties with mortgages, rent, water and energy bills and has helped to write off £5.8m of debt.

"We're all very worried... it's a very unsettling time," he added.

Of the nine offices, in Bodmin, Camborne, Falmouth, Liskeard, Newquay, Penzance, Saltash, St Austell and Truro, only Liskeard and Camborne are likely to remain open.

Council leader Adam Paynter said the final decision would be made in February when the budget was set.

"We've had to look very carefully at every budget line to see where we can make any savings," he said.

Cornwall Council, which is carrying out public consultations, has saved nearly £300m since 2010, but will need to find a further £75m over the next four years.

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