Charity in crisis: questions raised in parliament

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​Jackie Baillie tables parliamentary questions following TFN exclusive on Citizens Advice governance crisis  

31st May 2016 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Questions have been raised in parliament regarding the governance debacle at Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie has asked the Scottish Government a series of questions after TFN revealed issues at the beleaguered charity has pushed it close to collapse.

The Dumbarton politician is now demanding to know if the Scottish Government has concerns over the way the organisation is being run in light of a series of ongoing problems at the advice charity.

Last week TFN revealed how a culture of overbearing interference by trustees was threatening its existence as ministers from the UK government prepared to offload it to the Scottish Government.

A number of senior sources linked to the organisation said many of the problems stem from unpaid chairman Dominic Notarangelo’s “obsessive” grip on decisions, much of which are outwith the chair’s remit.

Baillie has also asked if the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) should investigate CAS following allegations about the use of the development fund.

Former senior staff and trustees said very little scrutiny was taken with the fund, which is used to finance individual Citizens Advice Bureaux across Scotland with one-off costs, leading to allegations of mismanagement.

The organisation is currently undergoing its eighth governance review which is due to be published at the end of June

CAS's board allocates around 20% from its core funding to form a Development Fund to provide grants to individual member bureaux to help them develop their service.

The organisation is currently undergoing its eight governance review which is due to be published at the end of June.

As reported last week, civil servants at the Department for Business Infrastructure and Skills are concerned with the way CAS is being governed and one option could be for Westminster to drop its core funding – which last year amounted to £3.5 million – offloading it to the  Scottish Government.

Former CAS treasurer Stephen Brown said: “My view is the people of Scotland deserve better than this.

“The (Citizens Advice) brand has been so weakened from cutbacks at the front end, and downright bad governance at the top end, a completely new agency is needed that brings back some ethical standards in the independent advice offered to Scottish Citizens.”

A CAS spokesman refuted the organisation was close to collapse and denied there were plans afoot to transfer core funding from the UK government to the Scottish Government.

He added: "We understand Jackie Baillie has a number of concerns about recent publicity, which she has raised through the Scottish Parliament. Much of this publicity was factually inaccurate and misleading. We have written to her to offer her the opportunity to discuss her concerns with us and to appraise her of the facts of the matter.”

A response from parliament is due 9 June.