Since 2010, SCC has been forced to cut its budget by £500 million. In the coming year it must save £85 million to stay within budget. This means hard decisions will be necessary. To help them make these decisions and continue to plan Community Vision for Surrey 2030, council members are consulting residents on 5 different issues.
This post is about one of the issues: A strategy for transforming libraries and cultural services.…..responses by Friday 4 January.
We understand that through its consultations SCC is primarily seeking the views of residents as individual taxpayers. However, because Citizens Advice Reigate and Banstead (CARBS) has strong links with SCC in several service areas, including libraries*, we have also made our own response as an organisation.
We hope council members at county and borough level recognise the potential of these shared interests and agree that through closer cooperation we could make an enhanced contribution to Community Vision for Surrey 2030.
CARBS is a truly local service. Its strength is in drawing on the deep well of local people’s concern for their community and willingness to donate time and skills to the well-being of neighbours. At the same time, CARBS access to the national resources of Citizens Advice empowers this committed volunteer force through training and development, quality standards and online information support.
Surrey Principle 1 Libraries and cultural services provide and enable opportunities for everyone to learn, access information, acquire new skills, improve literacy and be involved in their communities.
CARBS work aligns perfectly with these opportunities. Every year our trained volunteer advisers improve the lives of thousands of Surrey residents by enabling them to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to play their full part as citizens.
CARBS purpose could easily be defined in these terms. Our service is for everyone, whoever they are, whatever their problem. A higher proportion of clients are vulnerable in one or more ways – that is in the nature of our work. However we also advise many others who have run into problems, for example at work, with a purchase or a financial transaction.
Surrey Principle 3 Libraries and cultural services are most effective and efficient when they work in partnership with the public, voluntary, community and private sectors, including through the creation of shared spaces.
CARBS service is the primary care advice service, just as GPs are the primary care health service – our unique promise is to provide positive advice whatever the problem. In many cases, like family doctors, our advice is sufficient to help clients sort out their problems. In many others, we can recommend or refer them to other organisations or individuals for more specialist advice. Our role thus puts us at the heart of a concentrated network of local public and voluntary services.
CARBS advice and record-keeping benefit from sophisticated new technologies shared across the national Citizens Advice network. We fully subscribe to the importance of keeping abreast of tech developments. Like Surrey libraries, we support hundreds of clients who are disadvantaged by poor or non-existent digital skills; and we ask public and private sector organisations to recognise that the lives of a large minority of people are affected by digital exclusion.
CARBS volunteer advisers and supporters conform precisely to this description. Through our people policies and the CARBS Training Commitment we make it our highest priority to ensure that volunteers develop new skills, acquire new knowledge and enjoy helping improve the lives of fellow citizens.
* Redhill Library: Library links * A recent development: December 2018 Citizens Advice New Forest