Dramatic new plans, which it is believed will be presented to Glasgow City Council Chief Executive could, if implemented, result in Glasgow’s network of law, advice and information centres being closed.
It is believed a Financial Inclusion Plan has been drawn up which, if implemented, will result in 25% of cuts and end face to face advice for Glaswegians at a time when repossessions, unemployment and the cost of living are rising and brutal social security benefit cuts are being implemented.
The plans are also believed to propose one large tender for the city’s legal, money and benefit advice services, which will threaten independent community managed services. The dramatic plans, echo proposals earlier this year in England which if it hadn’t been for a last minute u-turn would have resulted in over 900 advisers being made redundant and Birmingham City Council closing all its Citizen Advice Bureaux.
The plans come on the back of announcement by the Council of Mortgage Lenders that repossessions are beginning to rise and warnings by Shelter and Govan Law Centre of a “coming storm” and “summer spike in repossessions”.
One commentator has already described the plans as being tantamount to expecting road accident victims with head injuries to be treated by NHS Direct.
Glasgow is currently served by eight Citizen Advice Bureaux (Pollok, Drumchapel, Maryhill, Easterhouse, Castlemilk, Central, Bridgeton and Parkhead), five law centres (Govan, Govanhill, Castlemilk, Drumchapel and the Legal Service Agency) and the city council money advice and benefit services. It also has a number of local independent advice centres.
Despite these waiting times for clients can still take 7-8 weeks and many clients facing repossession and evictions cannot get appointments in time. These cuts, if implemented will be a huge attack on vulnerable families and people and its unthinkable that it could occur under a Labour led council. The fact such plans are even seriously being proposed only weeks after the Labour Party lost a number of safe Scottish Parliament seats within the city beggars belief, with local council elections due next year.
These cuts have to be fought, otherwise many of the protections that have been implemented by the Scottish Government over the last few years for home owners and debtors, including most recently with the Home Owner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Act 2010, will be lost.
It will also mean families facing scathing benefit cuts by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition being left without any defence.
Is this what Iain Gray meant about the Scottish Labour Party being the only party able to defend Scottish voters from westminister cuts and attacks?