AM Suzy Davies meets with Citizen Advice Bureau chiefs to discuss service changes.
ASSEMBLY Member Suzy Davies has met with Citizens Advice Bureau chiefs to discuss planned service changes in Neath and Port Talbot.
From April 1, the CAB office in Alfred Street, Neath, and the one in Forge Road, Port Talbot, will be closed due to a cut in its funding.
Despite the closure, the bureau will be continuing to serve the county with an expanded outreach programme, which will see an increase in the number of locations its volunteers will be at on a regular basis.
Regional AM for South Wales West, Mrs Davies met with chief executive Jackie Preston and chairman Bob Chapman to discuss the changes.
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She said: "They have had to cut their paid staff from 40 to 24 and these will now all work as support staff to the 100 volunteers who man the outreach centres.
"They explained that they opted to expand outreach services, doubling the number of sessions, rather than use the money to keep their centres open.
"They felt that providing a service to customers was more important than paying to keep buildings open.
"I know that they are hoping to reach places where they have never been before like Resolven and Glynneath.
"In principle, it sounds feasible but I think the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.
"Accessibility is crucial so it will be interesting to see how the new system will operate.
"I am reassured that the local trustees are keen to ensure that the £750,000 funding which they receive is used towards reaching as many people as possible in the Neath Port Talbot area."
From April CAB volunteers will be at the civic centres in both towns, where staff will be able to take details and help people make appointments.
They will also be delivering from another three town centre offices in Neath and an additional one in Port Talbot as well.
They also plan to increase the hours they spend at locations which currently host their outreach sessions.
Ms Preston said: "We are relocating services into more community and partner venues.
"The availability for advice will be enhanced as a result. We are definitely not shutting down the services in the area and asking everyone to come to Swansea.
"Far from it, we have been working hard to get a service delivery schedule that will be much better than exists now."