American clergyman, activist and leader in the African civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King Junior once said, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” However, waiting for history to take a favourable course in the wake of the unquenchable avarice of our unprosecuted banksters has frequently proved beyond the capacity of some to face alone. For us, the determined spirit of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau has been invaluable.
First formulated in 1924 as result a of the Betterton Report on Public Assistance and launched fifteen years later on the day after the break out of the Second World War, this government funded service quickly found debt advice was a key issue for those who sought the expertise of its trained volunteers. After seventy successful years offering free consultations to those in need, their initial two hundred offices had expanded to three and a half thousand UK locations and its 21,500 volunteer staff had assisted some of the UK’s most vulnerable negotiate homelessness, asylum, state benefits, employment law, tenancy rights as well as two major recessions and the onset of the banking crisis.
The CAB now prides itself on being able to assist more than 14.2 million individuals a year. They are supported over the phone and the internet as well as provided with face to face advice from the bureau or visits to their homes. In 2003 following a review of its practices by the Office for Public Management, it was concluded, “the CAB service provides excellent value in return for the public funding it receives. It makes a significant contribution to individuals and communities, as well as to the process of policy-making and service delivery. Its holistic approach, national coverage and independence are to be cherished.”
Ten years have passed since this commendable observation was made and the CAB is currently busier than ever assisting those who have fallen foul of an economic crisis caused by criminality within the banking sector. With only the top 10% of wage earners in the UK continuing to prosper, it goes without saying many of the victims of debt and banking fraud would struggle to find refuge from their assailants without the CAB’s help. Yet despite increasing demand, the CAB has recntly been forced to turn hundreds of thousands of people away because their funding has been axed by 45%. As a result of these governmental and local authority cut backs they have no alternative but to close offices which are still playing a vital role in the community. Sadly the CAB office which rescued my own sanity is to be one of them.
In contrast to the invaluable contribution being made by the CAB, the delusional and unrepentant bankers armed themselves with weapons of financial mass destruction, used the window of opportunity created by financial deregulation to approach their business activities without moral hindrance plundered the reserves of their banks, their customers and the economy. Furthermore, by obtaining tax payer funded bailouts to preserve their jobs and their “modest” remunerations, they have cunningly redirected funding formerly earmarked for the auspicious community serving CA B and deftly removed the only means by which many of their victims have been able to fight back.
Roman economist, lawyer and politician Marcus Tullius Cicero once said,” There is no sanctuary so holy that money cannot profane it, no fortress so strong that money cannot take it by storm” and recent history clearly illustrates that a small group of inauspicious bankers have used money to both profane and to storm and it is the Citizen's Advice Bureau and it's service users who are now being forced to pay the price.