Lynne Fernquest: Advice costs – even when the customer doesn't pay
At a time when record numbers are seeking advice from the Citizens' Advice Bureau it's extremely disappointing to read that their council funding is being threatened to the tune of more than £200,000 per year.
Advice workers are caught up in their busiest year ever on the one hand, while the money they have to provide the service on the other is being withdrawn.
The public's response to this threat has been swift, with the 1,000 petition signatures needed to force a council debate being received in a few days.
To add insult to injury, the bureau – whose workload has spiralled due to the recession and benefits changes and now helps 1,200 people a month – is also being asked to tender to provide the new service from next April.
As we have already mentioned in these columns, Bath and North East Somerset Council is itself feeling the pinch and losing funding right, left and centre and they will not have put forward this proposal lightly.
All the more reason then why every penny they spend must be made to count.
When valuable services like children's centres and the CAB are being told "the money isn't there", then B&NES must convince council tax payers that their money is being spent wisely.
Whether taxpayers' money is being well spent wisely is a subjective matter.
If you have young children then cuts to children's services will affect you more than cuts to dance classes for the elderly for example.
What is, however, clear is that during these times of austerity everyone will end up feeling the.
Overspending by previous governments has come back to bite us all. It's no good blaming them now, but we do have to learn from it.
That does not however mean that protest is futile. B&NES will not always get funding decision right, and if there is enough intelligently thought out opposition the council may be forced to do a U-turn.
Obviously that will provide respite for some, but ultimately those savings will have to be found elsewhere.