Valerie Vaz MP Raises Concerns About Proposed Cuts to Citizens Advice

I have written to the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice to alert the CEO of the cut to the annual grant to Citizens Advice in Walsall Council’s budget proposal for 2023/2024.

I have asked Dame Clare Moriarty to intervene and prevent these proposed cuts. I have also made my objections known to Walsall Council.

This is a heartless proposal at a time when it is impossible to access free legal or other advice from trained advisors during the current cost of living crisis. This proposal comes during an increasingly difficult time of soaring energy bills and food costs when my constituents need advice and assistance to help them. The CASAW have themselves stated that “for every £1, CASAW were able to realise over £4 in income for local residents.”

In Walsall other advice services already have a waiting list. More importantly the Government provided funding to the CA to deliver ‘Help to Claim’ Universal Credit Support. It is not clear how this will now be delivered in the area.

Once this funding is lost these services will not be regained. The Council must restore the funding to preserve this vital service.

Full Text of my letter, dated 6 January 2023:

“Dear Clare

I am writing to raise my concerns regarding Walsall MBC’s budget proposal to cut the funding to CASAW. The Council have proposed removing the £245,000 annual grant in their 2023/24 budget. This change would take effect in March 2023. This comes after 20 years of funding the advice service.

The CASAW have already faced cuts but have maintained a valuable service to my constituents. It is a vital service that is needed now more than ever. The proposal to cut the finding during the current cost of living crisis is ill-considered just at the time my constituents are struggling with soaring energy bills and food costs. It is a value for money service that assists many people many of whom cannot afford to pay for legal or other advice and prevents their problems from worsening with timely advice and assistance.

 As you are aware the Government provided £21.3m in funding to CA to provide our constituents with free confidential and impartial advice for the ‘Help to Claim’ Universal Credit. It is not clear how this will be delivered in Walsall. Any cut to the CA service could prevent my constituents from accessing this support.

 I would appreciate your support in ensuring CASAW remains open by making representations to Walsall MBC not to cut the budget and let me know what action Citizens Advice will take to ensure that the local community who depend on this vital service are supported.

 Yours ever
Valerie Vaz
Rt Hon Valerie Vaz MP”