PEOPLE LIVING in the countryside could be denied access to vital advice and information in the face of funding cuts to Citizens’ Advice Bureaux, according to new research.

More than 25% of rural CABs have had to reduce the service they provide in the past year due to funding cuts and a further 46% fear they will have to do so in the near future, reveals the survey of 91 CABs across England and Wales.

It means rural dwellers – many on lower than average incomes – could be left without this independent source of guidance on issues such as debt, legal matters and even post-foot-and-mouth concerns.

The CABs say charitable trusts, corporate donors and the government are redirecting cash away from them, forcing them to reduce opening hours and withdraw vital services.

The trend is “particularly worrying” with research showing that up to 6.5m adults in England and Wales had life problems that went unresolved last year because they didn”t get any help, says Barbara Shaw, chairman of the Rural Bureaux Network.

“The work of Citizens Advice Bureaux in rural areas has enabled many of the UK’s poorest individuals to access the advice and information necessary to make informed and often life-changing decisions,” she adds.