Kevan Jones, Member of Parliament for North Durham, and Pat Glass, Member of Parliament for North West Durham, have condemned the decision by Citizens Advice to suspend the Derwentside Bureau from the national organisation.
The decision, which has come as a result of concerns about the bureau’s governance and finances, means that the Derwentside CAB must stop offering advice to clients immediately. Instead, residents in the Derwentside area will have to call a special telephone line, or travel to other bureaux in the County.
Kevan Jones said, “I have serious concerns about this decision, which will leave many of the poorest and most vulnerable in my constituency high and dry. Clearly there are some real problems at Derwentside CAB that need to be addressed, but I do not think depriving my constituents of a vital service is the way to do it. The provisions put in place are simply inadequate, as many people will not be able to travel to another branch, and may not be able, or feel comfortable, using the telephone helpline.”
Pat Glass added, “I am very concerned about this issue. I am concerned about how this problem came about, the current interim arrangements and the impact this could have on the vulnerable members of my constituency who greatly value and rely on Derwentside CAB for help and support. It would simply be devastating to lose Derwentside CAB for many of my constituents and I do not want to see constituents left without access to their services. I urge Citizens Advice to review their current decision at a time where their services are in ever increasing demand and ensure face to face provision is maintained.”
Mr. Jones and Ms Glass have written to the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice expressing their concerns, and have asked for an urgent meeting to discuss this matter.