There were more than 12 people waiting to be seen at the Penge CAB centre in Snowdown Close this morning when I visited on the centre’s final day of operation. There were also around 9 advisers, assessors and other support volunteers. Just how this Tory council thinks the same level of service can be offered at community centres is beyond me. But despite our protests (see this week’s News Shopper) the council is determined to go ahead with this meanest of cuts to support for our most vulnerable and needy residents.
As the latest round of government welfare cuts come into force, CABs are finding their advice services in even greater demand – just as this council reduces the service they can offer. There is a clear drop in moral from the volunteers who know they will be offering a lesser service. At outreach centres fewer clients will be able to be seen, IT facilities (so important now) will be slower. One volunteer who had been to see the outreach operation at Orpington estimated that it took up to 3 times as long to see each client. While I was there, I overheard one volunteer ask for advice regarding a client who could not be referred to an outreach centre for a follow up visit because of safety fears.
We still hope the council will realise how wrong they are on this issue but it is unlikely. Providing services that benefit the community is no longer a priority for this Tory council. We have listed the replacement CAB provision below, as far as it is at the moment. There will now be a 2 ½ week period when there is no CAB advice being offered in Penge. The volunteers assured me that they will continue to offer the best service they possibly can but they know it will be the clients who pay the price for this council’s mean polices.
The replacement drop in CAB service will operate:
- Anerley Town Hall, Monday & Wednesday 10 – 12 am, starting 4th March
- Christ Church, Maple Road, Mondays, 10 – 1 starting 11th March
- Holy Trinity, Lennard Rd, Monday & Friday, 10 – 1 starting 11th March.
It is hoped that a further centre will join at the end of March.
In the meantime, telephone enquiries can be made to the Bromley office on 020 8315 1940
Some volunteers have chosen to leave the service now but we would like to thank all those who over the years and in the future have and will freely give up their time to provide such essential help to others.