A NEW-look Citizens Advice Bureau has been launched in Solihull after its three separate branches were amalgamated into one.
The charity, which sees over 10,000 new cases in Solihull every year, will be headed by Kerry Turner, former manager of the Chelmsley Wood branch under the chairmanship of Alan Keegan.
However its two other centres in Shirley and Solihull will remain open.
And as the country reels from the economic consequences of the crash of 2008, Mr Keegan described the work of Solihull’s CAB as more important than ever.
“It is an absolutely essential service,” he said, “in the current situation many people do not know how to get from A to B and the CAB is a place where people can go and receive impartial advice that gives them the ability to sort their problems out.”
His comments were backed by Ms Turner who said many people were having a hard time making ends meet.
“Debt is the biggest problem - 40 per cent of the people we work with are in debt,” she said, “35 per cent have welfare problems and the rest are to do with unemployment and housing, with many relationships breaking down under the strain.”
And she condemned loan sharks and money lenders for targeting the vulnerable: “Credit is too easily available and these loan sharks charge incredibly high interest rates - people can easily find themselves out of their depth. We would always direct people to use credit unions.”
The new charity received an official launch at the Civic Suite of Solihull Borough Council, attended by the Mayor, Councillor Ian Court and the borough’s two MPs.
The local authority has maintained its grant to the CAB despite pressure to make savings, recognising that the CAB, staffed largely by volunteers, was one service it could not afford to cut. It is calculated that for every £1 invested in the CAB it saves £11 as it helps people overcome the misery of debt, unemployment and housing loss.
“It shows the esteem in which the CAB is held that, in these trying times the council has maintained their grant to the CAB,” said Lorely Burt MP.