THE continued support of Craven Citizens' Advice to the tune of £20,000 every year for at least the next three years is very welcome news indeed.

Craven District Council, which has now ended its large community grants scheme, has made an exception with the vital service and will continue to support it. The council will review the situation in three years time, but indications are that the financial support will be extended.

It was good news also to hear discussions are taking place with a view to the service taking up space in the town hall, presumably at an attractive rate and saving on its current rental costs.

In these days of austerity, more and more people are turning to Citizens Advice for free and confidential information on a wide range of topics, from housing and benefits to rights in the workplace. Last year, the service helped more than 1,600 people through its office in Skipton and at outreach in Settle, Ingleton and Bentham.

Without the support of Craven District Council, the service would have had to close its office in Skipton, leaving people with no choice but to travel, or to seek advice on the telephone. The service would have remained, but on a far reduced scale.

When it ended its support to eight community groups, including Settle Swimming Pool and Craven Volunteer Centre, the council said it would help them to become self-sufficient, generating their own funding. But Citizens Advice was unique in relying solely on funding from statutory organisations, such as councils.

A merger with Ripon and Harrogate bureaus has saved money, but financial support from Craven District Council remains substantially lower than the other authorities. Nonetheless, £60,000 over the next three years, together with perhaps office space in the town hall has been warmly welcomed by Citizens Advice Craven.