The closure of 5 CAB offices in Glasgow on March 31st will be a shocking blow to the people of the city, says Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).
The 5 CABs are those based in some of the city’s most deprived areas - Easterhouse, Bridgeton, Parkhead, Pollok and Castlemilk. All 5 of them have seen massive increases in demand over recent years, and have become a lifeline for thousands of people facing crisis issues like debt, homelessness, unemployment and severe poverty.
Despite the ‘life-changing’ work they do every day, and the huge levels of trust they inspire, they are closing because the agency which has responsibility for advice services in the city has refused to offer them a future role (see notes).
Citizens Advice Scotland’s Acting Chief Executive, Susan McPhee, says:
"This is a really shocking situation, and we are deeply disappointed that the people of Glasgow will lose so much expert advice – just when they need it most.
"The recession has really battered the city, and things have been made worse by the government’s public spending cuts and welfare reforms. As a result many Glasgow families are really struggling, demand for CAB advice has never been higher and staff at all of these offices have never been busier.
“Last year Glasgow’s CAB service helped nearly 27,000 people, and on their behalf dealt with a total of 80,000 issues. Their expert advice is also incredible value for money. By stopping people becoming homeless or getting them out of debt, our advisers not only help those families but also save millions of pounds every year for the Glasgow economy. For every £1 of funding they received last year, the Glasgow CABs generated a gain of £21.
"We are sure that Glaswegians will be as shocked as we are by these closures. The CAB is one of the most popular institutions in the city. A poll a few years ago found that 93% of Glaswegians supported the CAB. The service is iconic and unique, and has served the city for 73 years – delivering free, independent, confidential advice to anyone who needs it.
“Everyone recognises the circular blue and yellow CAB logo, and knows that it represents a tradition of quality advice and first-rate service. It’s deeply shocking that that familiar image – and all that it represents - will now disappear from most of Scotland’s largest city.
"Staff at these five bureaux are devastated that they can no longer provide their vital service to the city they love, and they have asked us to thank the people of Glasgow for their support and goodwill over the years."
Interviews and Case Studies
We can organise interviews with spokespeople from CAS, or from the CAB offices affected. We also have a number of case studies – people who have been helped by the Glasgow CAB service recently and are prepared to tell their story.
To organise this, please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010 or 07774 751655.
How Did This Happen?? (In Brief)
Local Authorites are required to provide advice services to their citizens. In 2011, instead of awarding direct funding to the CAB and some other agencies, Glasgow City Council invited organisations to bid for their advice contracts. This effectively set charities and advice groups against each other.
The bureaucracy of this tendering process took up enormous amounts of CAB staff time and resources. The outcome was that five of the city’s eight CAB offices (those named above) lost out and their funding was awarded instead to a consortium of other advice groups, known as Glasgow Advice Agency (GAA).
Over the last few weeks the five bureaux have been in discussion with GAA, to try to secure sub-contracts which would allow them to stay open. Despite several assurances, GAA has not offered any contracts and so the bureaux now have no option but to close down when their funding runs out at the end of March.
In the last few days, Glasgow City Council has been trying to come up with a temporary solution - essentially to buy the bureaux more time. However, the reality of their tendering process is that the decision belongs to GAA, who have made clear that they see no future role for these 5 bureaux.
Therefore the situation today is that the CAB – one of the most familiar and trusted charities in the country – will lose more than half of its presence in Glasgow. Just three CAB offices will remain in the city (Glasgow Central, Drumchapel and Maryhill) and these now expect to see even more demand, putting huge additional pressure on their already over-stretched staff. Otherwise, people who are facing personal and financial crises will have to seek advice instead from an array of different advice centres they don’t know.
What the Glasgow CAB Service Did For The City Last Year
Helped over 26,500 clients with new issues
Dealt with over 80,000 new issues on behalf of clients
Dealt with 30 new issues for every 100 households in Glasgow
Generated a ‘client financial gain’ of £21 for every £1 of funding received
Helped over 5,600 clients to secure benefits/tax credits
Helped almost 5,000 clients with debt issues.
Prevented 469 households from becoming homeless.
The CAB in Glasgow make up an integral part of the national CAB network. Glasgow CABs deal with 1 issue in every 7 brought to a CAB in Scotland.
The Glasgow CABs also deal with more issues per client. Whilst the Scottish CAB average is 2.4 issues per client, in Glasgow it is three issues per client.
What Do People in Glasgow Think of the CAB?
The CAB is one of the most popular charities in Glasgow. An Ipsos Mori poll of Glasgow residents in 2009 found that:
93% agreed that that CAB provide a quality service
94% agree that CAB help people get fair treatment
89% agree that the Scottish CAB service is ‘the leading advice agency in Scotland’
89% would use a CAB again in the future
83% are ‘certain’ or ‘very likely’ to recommend the CAB to a friend or relative
The 2 attached briefings cover all of these points in more detail. Attached are:
A more detailed chronology of events
A briefing showing how the service has benefits the city. NB In addition to this city-wide briefing, we also have individual briefings showing the work of each of the five affected CABs: Easterhouse, Castlemilk, Pollok, Parkhead and Bridgeton.