‘Milton Keynes Council is letting down the poor’

Steve Naylor, chief executive of Citzens Advice Bureau in Milton Keynes.
Steve Naylor, chief executive of Citzens Advice Bureau in Milton Keynes.

Milton Keynes will be the only city in England without a Citizens Advice Bureau if the council slashes its funding.

The Midsummer Boulevard-based charity has been running for over 40 years, helping almost 12,000 people with more than 22,000 problems last year alone.

But the information and advice service will be forced to close if MK Council goes ahead with its plan not to renew a £260,000 contract.

Steve Naylor, chief executive, of MK CAB, said: “A decent provision for the poor really is the true test of civilization and this budget woefully lets down the poorer members of our community.

“All this is at a time when people are struggling to make ends meet, especially those who are sick or disabled, and often rely on welfare benefits for their income.

“It will make Milton Keynes the only city in England that does not have a Citizens Advice Bureau.”

By ending its contract with CAB in October 2015, the council will trim just one per cent off the £22million it must save from next year’s budget.

But with a total of £70million worth of cuts to be made by 2020, libraries, children’s centres, parking and bus services are also on the hist list.

Steve added: “This cost saving measure clearly has not been thought through.

“Without our help, people’s problems will escalate and many will turn up on the council’s doorstep for help.

“This will add to the council’s costs and will ultimately end up costing them more money than they have saved.

“It does not have the resources to help all of these people.

Councillor Nigel Long, cabinet member for health, wellbeing and community services, said there was no guarantee CAB would have won the three-year contract next year anyway, but guaranteed the city will have an advice service in the future.

He said: “CAB need to come up with a proposal for the longer term and work with the council to deliver these service in a different way.

“They are based in a prime location, but could they not share an office with someone else or work out of a library?

“I am not 100 per cent convinced they reach out enough to the community, but I’m not saying CAB won’t be given council funding in the future.

“It’s only a proposal.”