High quality free debt advice is a vital part of what the CAB offers in Uttlesford, as unmanaged debt affects not only the well being of individuals, but also the wider community. Debt counselling is essential as it eases the relationship between creditor and debtor, helps a client to complete paperwork correctly, negotiate settlements and choose an appropriate route through the court if necessary. Without help the consequences of this kind of hardship can be tragic and far reaching: 2011/12 has seen a 21% increase in calls related to threatened homelessness in this area.
There has also been a significant rise in the same period in priority debt: enquires related to social housing rent arrears are up 38%, enquiries about council tax arrears are up 14%. Conversely there has been a reduction in non-priority debt: store cards and credit card debt is down 34%, catalogue and mail order debt is down 48%. The rise in debt relating to affordable housing seems linked to the current pressure on the rental sector in this area, whereas the reduction in non-priority debt shows that people have no money to spend on extras and are clearly not spending it. The repercussions for the wider economy do not need to be spelled out.
CAB advisors continue to be concerned by the numbers of people turning to unregulated debt management companies which charge for their services. This can compound people’s problems and it’s important that everyone knows there is expert, impartial, confidential and free advice available.
If you want to talk to someone over the phone or via email, you could call the National Debt Line who help people manage their money issues in an informed and proactive way. If you are confident using the Internet, the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, have an excellent on-line debt-counselling service called CCCS Debt Remedy. You could also try Uttlesford CAB’s new website and click on Debt & Money for a helpful list of Frequently Asked Questions.
If you would prefer to actually see a friendly face, you could call or email Uttlesford CAB and start the process of getting your debts under control!
Uttlesford CAB are delighted to welcome Caroline Halfacre who is joining their debt team. Caroline is a highly qualified and experienced debt specialist who was based at Braintree CAB for many years. She will be continuing the valuable work of Paul Fuller who has just retired after 10 years as Uttlesford CAB’s resident debt specialist. Carol Moody will be continuing her role of providing administrative back up.
National Debt Line: 0808 808 4000, www.nationaldebtline.co.uk
Consumer Credit Counselling Service: 0800 138 1111, www.cccs.co.uk
Uttlesford Citizens Advice Service: 0844 477 5986, www.uttlesfordcab.org.uk
Funding of debt work is provided by Uttlesford District Council, Town Councils and a number of Parish Councils supplimented by the Nat West Community Fund which we were awarded in 2011.
Notes to editors:
1. The Citizens Advice service helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing information and advice, and by influencing policy makers.
2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, age or nationality.
3. Uttlesford CAB has offices and outreaches in Saffron Walden, Great Dunmow and Thaxted. Clients can call, drop in or make an appointment.