A COUNCIL has cut funding to a vital advice charity by 20 per cent.
East Hampshire District Council's cabinet has agreed to reduce the annual grant to the area's Citizen Advice Bureau to 218,080 in the next financial year.
The cut comes at a time when demand for help from volunteers is at its greatest because of the economic downturn.
Council leader Patrick Burridge said it was a tough decision, especially in the current climate, but one that had to be made because of the constraints on the authority's budget which made it impossible to match previous funding levels.
'The council recognises the key function that the East Hampshire Citizens Advice Bureau provides in East Hampshire, especially in the tough times ahead,' said Cllr Burridge.
'Although there has been a reduction in award, the East Hampshire Citizens Advice Bureau will continue to be one of the highest funded CABs in Hampshire.
'We have tried to make savings with minimum impact on our partners but it was impossible to achieve the required savings without making some reductions in the grants we award.'
The district's CAB operates from Petersfield, Alton and Whitehill Bordon, with outreach offices in Horndean, Bramshott and Liphook.
The charity provides free, confidential, impartial and independent advice to help residents deal with a wide range of issues including benefits, housing, and employment.
It is not yet known how the service will be affected by the cuts.
Cllr Julie Butler, who is in charge of community issues at the council, said: 'We are fully aware of the vital role the CAB plays in our communities.
'We will be working closely with them over the next year to minimise the impact of this reduction in funding and identify opportunities for sharing resources to meet the financial challenges faced.'
The decision will be put to full council on February 24. Call East Hampshire CAB on 01730 264887 or go to easthantscab.org.uk.