I was very pleased to hear this weekend that the Westminster government has found £27m to continue for one more year at least, the excellent support that CABs give with the Financial Inclusion Fund.
But for some time now, a cloud has been hovering over the CAB service because it has seemed that the Financial Inclusion Fund would be axed at the end of this March.
Here in Cardigan, we have used the funding to provide 2 caseworkers who have seen 280 new clients over the past 12 months, but with the sword of damocles hanging above their heads, we have had concerns about the provision of debt advice if the funding is not continued or replaced.
In the last few days before the announcement was made, Ceredigion's MP Mark Williams spoke in a Westminster debate on the availability of debt management advice.
“The Government are rightly looking at where cuts can be made to reduce the deficit, but I am concerned that scrapping the Financial Inclusion Fund could be a false economy.
“Many people have benefited from debt management advice, and it has allowed people to manage their debts while staying in work.
“A phone and online advice service is no substitute for face-to-face advice, particularly for vulnerable clients and those with mental health problems, who may find it difficult to understand what can be complex issues over the phone.
“I hope that the Government will rethink this, as it is vital that we have this advice in place during what have been difficult financial times for many.”
He also wrote to Lib Dem Business Minister Ed Davey MP, urging him to retain the funding. I'm delighted that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP has now made the announcement.
It may only be a one-year reprieve at present but it's great news for the CABs across the UK and most importantly, for the clients who rely on the advice and support given.