Bureau future decision

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A MEETING to decide the future of a 73-year-old citizen’s advice bureau was set to take place today.

Hartlepool Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB), which helps 7,500 people in town each year, could close after failing to secure a £206,000 bid from Hartlepool Borough Council.

Instead the cash was granted to the West View Advice and Resource Centre to provide the same type of service.

Bureau bosses were expected to meet today to decide whether to carry on or wind down the service.

Manager Joe Michna, said the cash crisis may also impact on its Debt Advice Service, which may force three specialist debt advice staff into redundancy, along with their two assistants.

Mr Michna said: “With the local CAB service under threat of closure, the Debt Advice Team is also under the threat of redundancy.

“Between them, they have 26 years experience of providing a debt advice service and they are one of the most experienced debt advice teams in the UK.”

He said in 2009, one of the workers won the Debt Adviser of the Year award issued by the Money Institute of Money Advisers.

From April last to this month, the team carried out 1,500 client interviews, dealt with total client debt of over £6.5m, achieved almost £1.5m in financial gains for clients, and helped 600 people with severe multiple debt problems,

He added: “Unfortunately, if the bureau has to close, our Debt Advice Team will have to be made redundant along with all other paid staff.

“The Trustee Board are looking at all options for keeping our offices open, but at the same time we have got to face up to the very serious financial difficulties we have and make some tough decisions.”