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Citizens Advice East Herts facing funding cut and asks East Herts Council to promote social value





2022 is going to be the year we all feel the cold grip of austerity, writes Tony Murphy, the chair of the board of trustees at Citizens Advice East Herts. The Resolution Foundation predicts higher energy bills and stagnant wages. And National Insurance and council tax could leave households with a £1,200 a year hit to their incomes.

At Citizens Advice East Herts we are braced for an upsurge in demand from all walks of life, but particularly those people on lower incomes, who feel the effects disproportionately.

Our own income will be reduced. In addition to our own fundraising, we receive a much-appreciated grant from East Herts Council which in 2021-22 represented 30% of our income, that's 90p per resident.

Tony Murphy, chair of the board of trustees, Citizens Advice East Herts
Tony Murphy, chair of the board of trustees, Citizens Advice East Herts

The council has recently approved further cuts that will reduce that to 81p next year, then 74p, with another drop to 68p in three years' time. It's not the same in other Hertfordshire boroughs. Half of them fund their local Citizens Advice at £1.50 per resident or more.

Firstly, we think it's a false economy to cut funding. People's problems aren't going to go away – we know they're definitely getting worse and more complicated. The costs of not doing anything, both fiscal and physical, will certainly fall somewhere.

If people lose their homes because they are unable to pay their rent or council tax, then the cost of supporting these people will be heavier for the council than helping them to pay their bills.

It's not just households feeling the pinch - Citizens Advice East Herts is facing a funding cut
It's not just households feeling the pinch - Citizens Advice East Herts is facing a funding cut

Those people suffering might also suffer mental or physical health issues as a consequence of the stress of not being able to pay their bills, which further impact an already strained health service.

Secondly, there is a way that East Herts Council could help us replace that income that they haven't yet made available. East Herts could be asking companies who tender for council work to contribute financially or in kind to the economic wellbeing of the district. It's called social value.

The deal is, if a company wins council work in an area, it promises to contribute social value. One way to do this is by collaborating with charities and social enterprises.

The option has been available for over a year – it seems a shame to still be waiting.



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