26th May, 2019

Emergency meeting about future of Solihull Citizens Advice demanded by opposition parties

Felix Nobes 10th Jan, 2019 Updated: 10th Jan, 2019

AN EMERGENCY meeting about the future of Solihull borough’s threatened Citizens Advice services is being sought by opposition councillors.

As we revealed, the council last month axed funding to Citizens Advice Solihull Borough (CASB) after decades.

Its town centre service at The Core in Theatre Square is expected to be closed by March 31, after an eviction notice has been issued at the council-owned premises.

Only a much reduced service at its Chelmsley Wood branch on Bosworth Drive will remain.

Now Liberal Democrat councillor Ade Adeyemo, Green Party councillor Tim Hodgson and Labour councillor David Cole have sent a joint letter to council chief executive Nick Page.

It calls for an urgent meeting to discuss a string of questions which councillors feel have not yet been answered.

Solihull Council insists a new provider, Age UK, will offer an improved service in the place of CASB, which was outbid for the contract.

The letter states: “Citizens Advice is a known and trusted brand. They have been in Solihull for over 40 years.

“They are a brand people trust and seek out, who are known for their expertise and depth of knowledge.

“We are not convinced they can be easily or realistically replaced.

“We are writing to you to request an urgent meeting of a maximum of three representatives of each political group with you or a senior officer to discuss this matter and to ensure we obtain answers to a number of questions on behalf of our constituents.”

The questions tabled focus on issues such as the safeguarding of CASB’s volunteers, the replacement of the knowledge and expertise which could be lost and the details of the transfer to Age UK in April.

CASB supports nearly 6,000 people a year – offering help and advice on matters including debt, benefits, housing and tax.

Citizens Advice is a UK-wide service giving free, confidential legal and practical advice on social and financial issues.

The Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats have started a petition calling on Conservative-run Solihull Council to explore the possibility of providing assistance to CASB to help continue its services. It has already gained 384 signatures.

The council claims the funding changes will streamline advice services and make them more efficient, cutting out duplication from different providers – and will include a new outreach service.

The new services will be on offer at the council’s advice hub in the Core and Chelmsley Wood library.

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