Closure of Northern Rock Foundation a ‘huge bodyblow’ to Hartlepool advice service


THE closure of the Northern Rock Foundation which has funded Hartlepool Citizens’ Advice Bureau with £500,000 in the last decade will be a “huge bodyblow” to the service.

The North-East bank-funded foundation looks set to be wound up after trustees failed to agree future funding with Virgin Money, which bought Northern Rock three years ago.

The foundation has provided Hartlepool CAB with around half a million pounds, vital in helping the organisation to continue providing the housing advice and tenancy support project in the town.

Hartlepool CAB manager Joe Michna says what is so unique about the Northern Rock Foundation is the consistency and longevity of the support on offer. The town service, based in Park Road, is currently in its eighth year of receiving funding from the foundation.

And although Mr Michna has been guaranteed the CAB will receive support in 2015 - the final year of a three-year contract with the foundation - he admits the organisation will leave “a huge gap to be filled” thereafter.

“They are a very good foundation, they are very flexible and one of the things about the foundation is that rather than just provide funding on a short-term basis, they continue to support over a long period.

“The North-East needs the Northern Rock Foundation. We can’t ask for better support than what they have provided and I know many organisations throughout the region will feel the same. It really is a huge bodyblow in the not-for-profit sector.”

Hartlepool CAB’s advice and tenancy support project was launched in 1998 and helps to find affordable and good quality accommodation for homeless people by offering a bond or deposit guarantee to private landlords.

Under the current three-year contract, the service receives £64,000 each year from the foundation, which will drop to 50 per cent for the final year of the contact in 2015.

Mr Michna added: “Once the foundation goes we will have to look elsewhere for funding through other foundations and trusts.

“But one can only hope it isn’t the end, that the Northern Rock Foundation can survive in some form and continue to provide the outstanding support to so many organisations.”