Faced with a proposal to slash funding for the Highland Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) network at today's meeting of the Highland Council's Resources Committee, Tain councillor Jamie Stone successfully moved a motion extending a financial lifeline until April 2017.
This funding package will safeguard core services and additional vital CAB advice and support for pregnant mums and those experiencing mental ill health.
Speaking during the meeting, Mr Stone said: "The work done by CAB to help some of the most vulnerable and at risk on our society is hugely important. Geography and distance in the Highlands make it hard to extend the hand of help to people with mental health problems in remote locations. What the CAB has developed in terms of advice workers going out to see and advise these people in their homes is really tremendous.
"For instance the project worker based in Golspie has seen 85 clients, and over 350 individual client contacts, and has generated £121,000 in client financial gain. That is real money going to vulnerable people and back into the local community.
"The same is true of the help the CAB network gives pregnant mums to access welfare support, advice, and their full and proper benefits entitlement. I know from all I am being told in my part of the Highlands that this work by CAB is warmly welcomed and valued.
"It is for these reasons that I consider it unacceptable for the Highland Council to drastically cut our financial support for the CAB network. My proposals to continue funding the whole of the next financial year, until April 2017, will give us the time to negotiate a replacement funding for the years after that.
"This future funding should involve the Highland Council - and most importantly NHS Highland who, by definition, have a responsibility when it comes to mental ill health and and pregnant mums. The money we give to the CAB network is extremely well spent, and we owe it to our most vulnerable constituents out there to see that it is safeguarded and maintained.”
When the Resources Committee voted at the conclusion of the debate, Jamie Stone's amendment, seconded by Councillor Deirdre Mackay, successfully beat a motion by the Council Leader Margaret Davidson to fund the CAB network only until November 2016 by twelve votes to nine.