AN advice centre has been forced to reduce its drop-in service to one day a week because of a reduction in funding.

Citizens Advice Colchester is marking its 80th anniversary but staff and volunteers fear for the future of the service since losing some of its voluntary welfare grant funding.

By the end of the year Colchester Council would have handed over £25,000.

In 2018, the service received £50,000 from the council and the year before this received £101,791.

Due to the funding cuts the staff were left with no choice but to reduce the drop-in service.

Bill Hayton, acting chairman of Citizens Advice Colchester, said: “We have temporarily reduced the drop-in service at our Crouch Street office to one day per week because of reductions in funding.

“For the time being we will be open on Wednesdays for anyone to drop in.

“We will soon be providing a second day of drop-in advice at a new location. We are fundraising in order to be able to provide extra days of drop-in advice at Crouch Street and we hope the community will support our efforts.”

The drop-in sessions run from 9.30am to 12.30pm.

Mr Hayton added: “In the meantime, we are still providing advice all week through our website and anyone facing a problem with debt can make an appointment to see an advisor on any week day.

“We have an advisor based in the Job Centre helping people with Universal Credit. We also provide home visits for tenants of Colchester Borough Homes and for clients at The Lakes mental health hospital.”

The centre is due to receive a second voluntary welfare grant instalment of £12,500 later this month.

Earlier this year, it was announced an extra £17,500 from the council’s spending priorities budget would be allocated.

Colchester High Steward Sir Bob Russell said: “Total blame for this rests with Colchester Council for a drastic cut in the funding it has historically given to CAB.

“For the council to say it cannot afford £2,000 a week for this lifeline service to often vulnerable and desperate people is ridiculous.”

David King, Colchester councillor responsible for resources, said the council had a good relationship with the service and it will do its utmost to make sure a face-to-face service remains.

He said: “We have a record of wholehearted support for the CAB and we value their passion and the help they provide residents across the town.

“We have been in dialogue with the CAB about their future plans and we agree they are an invaluable service.

“They know we fully support them.”