SCROOGE-like Government budget cuts are making it a bleak Christmas for one of the most vital good causes in Bangor - North Down Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
Volunteers at the cash-strapped CAB are staring into a financial black hole which has left them with a huge funding shortage of £33,500 at one of their busiest times for helping those in need.
But unlike previous years the bureau has been told that they will not be thrown a monetary lifeline by the Department for Social Development - and Assembly budget cuts are being blamed.
The bombshell news that the so called ‘slippage fund’ subsidy they have received for the last two years has dried up was broken to the busy advice bureau just last month.
In desperation they have turned to the other body which already provides the bulk of their funding, North Down Borough Council, only to be told initially that they have no surplus money either.
But on Tuesday councillors agreed to try to help the CAB by looking for any ‘possible alternative sources of funding’ in a bid to help them stave off the Christmas crisis.
They did so after digesting a report which revealed how the CAB received average annual funding over the past four years of just under £50,000 from the DSD and £95,000 from the council.
However, in the last two years it has also benefited from sums of just over £30,000 and just under £25,000 in ‘slippage’ funding to help it make ends meet. It is this which has been cut off this year.
DUP councillor Alan Graham told Tuesday’s meeting that the council had been placed in ‘a difficult position’ by the CAB’s plea for help and urged council officers ‘to see if anything else can be done’.