Thursday, 21 January 2016

Helping those in debt

The economy is improving, but one of the challenges is to make sure the recovery reaches everyone. This is why reforming the benefit system is important, so that work pays and also why we need intensive support to help those who have been out of work for a long time get their confidence back.

We also need to recognise the crippling affect that personal debt can have on those who have fallen on hard times. This does not just mean those on benefits. Many people who work also have debt problems and shouldn’t be overlooked. It can start with a one off bill like a repair to the car or an unexpected tax bill but end up with court costs and thuggish bailiffs at the door adding huge cost and stress. Some people turn to loan sharks or payday loan companies who seem to offer a quick fix, but actually end up compounding the problem. There are few things more demoralising to people than having bills and debts that stalk them.

I have previously held a personal debt conference to discuss this issue in further detail. The Citizens Advice Bureau regularly offers debt advice to those at their wits end and the Government set up the Money Advice Service with the key objective of encouraging people to better manage their money. There is also the Kernow Credit Union, which offers an ethical and safe alternative to the traditional bank model. 

This weekend I met with Teresa Bailey, the new branch manager of Christians Against Poverty. CAP are a great charity based in Redruth and which helps local people who are struggling with debt and don’t know where to turn. CAP provides free one-on-one meetings and helps negotiate payment plans and settlements with utility companies, banks and other creditors. Founded in 1996, CAP are a great organisation and operate 290 debt centres across the UK. It can only take one knock in life to end up in debt and if you are looking for help CAP can be contacted on 0800 3280 006.