Funding and accommodation dominated a presentation by Epping Forest Citizens Advice Bureau to district councillors on Tuesday 15 October.
Janet Wood assisted CAB District Manager Stephanie Chambers set out the challenges facing the CAB at Overview and Scrutiny. Epping Forest District Council funds the local CAB annually with a grant of £113,840, as well as paying the salaries of 3 specialist Welfare Reform Mitigation officers for the Bureau, making the total district council contribution almost £160,000. The district council makes by far the largest financial contribution to the local volunteer advice services.
Other contributions are made by Essex County Council, private donations, government schemes and charitable gifts by high street names such as Lloyds TSB. Epping, Loughton and Waltham Abbey Town Councils also make significant contributions.
Epping Forest CAB facts for 2012/2013
- helped 3,397 clients
- 14,096 different issues
- Benefits and debt are the biggest sources of enquiries and advice
Epping Forest CAB is going through a period of transition. While its old offices at Hemnall Street in Epping are being rebuilt by the Theydon Trust it has been given temporary accommodation at the Epping Forest ReUse Centre in Bower Hill. Once completed, the new Epping Offices, built in consultation with the CAB should provide better accommodation but at an increased rent.
The Loughton-based CAB office at the Ignite Centre in St Mary’s Church is also facing closure due to the poor state of the building. Ultimately, the CAB is considering centring its operations on Epping and its remaining office at Waltham Abbey Town Hall with outreach services to Loughton, Limes Farm in Chigwell and other parts of the district.
Unpaid volunteers make up most of the local CAB advisory workforce but they are backed up by a team of 9 paid part-time staff and the 3 Welfare Mitigation Advisers funded by the district council. CAB managers are currently consulting with staff on the restructure.