NEWS COMMENT: Cuts to CAB finding might come back to haunt council

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It is not easy to put a price on the work of charities, but there are 2,200 people living in the north of Portsmouth who can.

Ask them to value the help they were given in 2016 by the Cosham branch of the city’s Citizens Advice Bureau and they would all probably say: priceless.

For that’s how many people knocked on its Northern Road door last year alone and between them they needed help solving 8,700 problems.

Those problems ranged from mounting debt, to rent and tax arrears and homelessness.

Yet, next Tuesday, the Cosham branch will shut, yet another victim of local government spending cuts.

For it was only able to exist with the cash that came from civic coffers.

That was pulled in 2012 and it has limped along until now. The cash stream has been turned off despite increased demand in these straitened times for its valuable services.

And, as we report on page 7 today, the closure comes with dire warnings that without the Cosham branch’s problem-solving skills more people will be forced into poverty.

Luckily, Portsmouth is not Derby. That city has now been left without any CAB presence. In Portsmouth two other branches will remain and some might argue that those north of the Portsbridge roundabout should make their way to the offices at North End and in Winston Churchill Avenue.

But should they do this the pressure will only increase on the staff in those other two locations who will have less time to devote to the myriad problems landing on their desks.

Citizens Advice has found that every £1 invested in its service nationally saves the government £1.50 and brings wider economic benefits worth almost £9.

Perhaps the city council will come to rue the day it axed that CAB funding?