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Citizens Advice Bureaux

Volume 974: debated on Monday 19 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade what will be the amount of financial assistance from his Department for local citizens advice bureaux for 1980–81; and how this compares with levels of assistance for the current financial year.

As I shall be announcing today, we shall be doubling the level of assistance in 1980–81, compared with this year. We shall provide £3 million next year. This compares with £1·5 million in the current year. Both figures are at 1979 survey prices.

Does the right hon. Lady realise that she provides practically no assistance for the local CABs? Although she is increasing expenditure at national level by £1·5 million, she is making a saving of £1·5 million because of the abolition of CACs. Is the right hon. Lady concerned that, with the pressure on local government spending, many local CABs will come under severe pressure because of the cut in grants at local level?

Like the hon. Gentleman's Government, when he was Minister with responsibility for consumer affairs, the Government make no direct grant to local CABs. I was referring to the grant for the National Association of Consumer Advice Bureaux—as happened under the previous Government. I value greatly the work done by CABs. That is why I am pleased to be able to increase support in this way. The hon. Gentleman referred to the CACs. I have noted that the CABs are far more cost-effective. It costs them £1 to deal with a complaint, against £4 in the case of the CACs.

Notwithstanding the carping of the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser), will my right hon. Friend take it from me that some of my right hon. and hon. Friends, conscious of the need to continue to assist the consumer in whatever way is open to us, warmly welcome the announcement that she has made this afternoon?