CAB concerns are voiced by town councillor

Concern has been raised by a town councillor about the proposed changes to the service offered by the Citizen Advice Bureau in Berwick.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 11:13
The Tweed Street premises of Berwick Voluntary Centre and the CAB.

Brian Parkin, councillor for the Castle Ward, has written to Vera Murphy, chairman of the trustee board for Northumbrian CAB about the issue.

Coun Parkin said: “As someone who works in social housing, I know first-hand how important CAB is for many people, especially at a time when Universal Credit is being rolled out across the country.

“We all know that as technology advances, more and more people are using the internet to manage their lives, however, face-to-face advice is vitally important for many people as increasing demand for the service in Berwick shows.”

Volunteers in the Berwick office recently warned of the consequences proposed changes could have on vulnerable people who use their service, including the elderly, those with learning difficulties and those who have poor language skills.

Several readers have also expressed concerns on our letters page (Page 28).

Coun Parkin is urging the Northumbrian CAB trustee board to engage with the Berwick office and address the serious concerns they have.

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“The trustee board should avoid any top-down reorganisation and consult with volunteers in Berwick,” he said.

“The volunteers are best placed in knowing how to serve people using the service in the town and the surrounding area.”

Citizens Advice Northumberland says that by transferring a greater proportion of its resources to telephone and digital delivery, access to its services will increase for many people who can’t currently make it to one of its offices.

In 2016-17, the charity helped 13,726 people with more than 43,800 different problems.

The number of people trying to access the service via telephone, email and webchat, rather than face-to-face, increased by 40 per cent. However, it acknowledges this method of delivery does not suit everybody so it will maintain a face-to-face service.