CAB managers are ready to merge with Eastbourne

CITIZENS Advice 1066 in Hastings is set to merge its management with the Eastbourne branch in a bid to safeguard frontline services.

Both bureaux are under increasing financial pressure and have agreed that unless action is taken the levels of service, including opening hours, would have to be cut or offices could even be closed.

This comes at a time when CAB services are in great demand because of the economic downturn.

The trustee boards of both bureaux have accepted the recommendation of a joint working group that the two should merge, and that management, financial and other administrative functions should be based in Hastings.

People seeking help will be unaffected by the change, and volunteers will continue to provide advice face-to-face or by telephone.

Some paid posts may be lost as a result of the merger.

According the bureaux, the impact will be less than it would if the merger did not take place and a full consultation process will take place before final decisions are made.

Citizens Advice 1066 receives support from Hastings Borough Council, but this funding does not sustain a full service.

It relies on a contribution to overheads from other externally funded specialist advice services, but these revenue streams are drying up.

The recession has placed growing demand on CAB services, particularly from people with problems relating to debt, employment and housing.

A task group is now working on the fine detail of the project and the aim is for the merger to be operational from April next year.

Commenting on the decision, David Turner, chairman of Citizens Advice 1066, said: “The protection of the generalist advice service, which is the core service of Citizens Advice is of paramount importance for those living in Hastings and Eastbourne.

“The decision to merge will ensure that access to advice will still be possible and will ultimately provide new opportunities to develop and improve our services.”