Charity forced to move over staff intimidation and antisocial behaviour

Musselburgh Citizens Advice Bureau (MCAB) said there had been a 'substantial' increase in incidents.

Citizens Advice Musselburgh forced to move over staff intimidation and antisocial behaviour LDRS

A charity, which offers free advice, to people plans to move its office because of increased antisocial behaviour and staff intimidation.

Musselburgh Citizens Advice Bureau (MCAB) said there had been a “substantial” increase in incidents outside its office, which had led to the police being called.

In a report presented to East Lothian councillors this month, MCAB said the issue did improve after law enforcement became involved but said: “MCAB has decided to relocate due to both this behaviour and their current building not being disability compliant.”

The news was included in the East Lothian Advice Consortium’s annual report to the local authority.

The consortium, which brings together MCAB and Haddington Citizens Advice Bureau to provide free advice services and has a contract from East Lothian Council, revealed it helped 830 clients access more than £2.7m over the last year.

Its annual report includes case studies detailing how vulnerable adults found themselves with debts that had spiralled out of control and needed the CAB to step in and negotiate with those they owed.

In one case they successfully challenged a bid by the HMRC to recoup more than £10,000 in overpaid tax credits from a vulnerable woman who was being treated for schizophrenia and had been in hospital several times.

They acted on her behalf to try and persuade the HMRC not to pursue the debt arguing their client was unwell at the time it was claimed to have happened and could be put at risk if they continued to demand repayment.

HMRC initially refused to set the debt aside but after CAB raised a formal complaint about the decision they were overruled and the debt written off.

Over the course of 2022 to 2023 the CABs helped 475 clients with a total debt of £3.7m.

The report said that although the economic benefit of the services provided were clear, East Lothian Council’s contracted work from CAB until 2025 is seeing reduced spend annually.

The report said a fall in funding meant two long term members of staff had taken voluntary redundancy as part of restructuring.

It said: “As charities, both CABs are required by the regulator to ensure that the charity is viable and sustainable and therefore in this financial year, both CABs went through a restructuring process to ensure that they met these regulatory requirements.

“This led to two long serving members of Haddington CAB opting for voluntary redundancy.

“They were the most experienced Money Advisers in CAB so their knowledge will be missed.”

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