People desperate for financial and legal advice are less important than party political one-upmanship. This seems to be the only conclusion possible from the rejection, by the Conservatives in charge of the County Council, of a plan to grant £100,000 immediately, and more next year, to advice agencies such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. This was the objective of a motion proposed by the Lib Dems last week.
All the advice agencies are swamped by enquiries from people in desperate need of help over debt, benefits, redundancy and home repossessions. Cambridge CAB has a 6 week waiting list for specialist appointments, and is turning away at least 20 people per day from its doors. There are similar problems across the county. The funding plan would have allowed for additional advisors to be employed immediately, within days. This is something quite modest but very important that the Council can do to help quickly in these times of economic difficulty. Instead, the Conservatives hijacked the proposal and replaced it with one so vague and undeveloped that it’s lost its urgency and focus. There isn’t even a mention for the advice agencies, just some grandiose talk of ’emergency assistance and pump-priming projects’. And when the Lib Dems offered to amend the Conservative’s motion to include the specific proposal relating to the CABs etc their amendment was voted down.
Cllr David Jenkins said: ‘Surely the people queuing outside the CAB would rather get some expert advice now than have their pumps primed by the County Council in some presently undefined way sometime in the future.’
It’s a shame when party politics takes over from common sense and goodwill. It brings politics and politicians into disrepute. All the Liberal Democrats were proposing was a simple and immediate measure to help people facing financial problems. Instead we get long-winded fudge.