Guide will offer advice on debt

Bassetlaw District Council offices, Queens Buildings, Potter Street
Bassetlaw District Council offices, Queens Buildings, Potter Street

A NEW series of measures to help people in financial trouble has been given the green light.

The news comes after Bassetlaw was ranked 61st out of 326 local authorities in England for being at risk of poverty and 64th for being at risk of child poverty.

The council points to increasing evidence of financial hardship in the district, including the increasing number of pawnbrokers and money shops.

Mortgage repossessions have also increased and homelessness is rising.

As the effects of the recession, unemployment, changes to benefits and soaring bills hit more and more families are likely to find themselves in trouble.

“This is a growing concern for all of us,” said portfolio holder for revenues and customer service Coun Sylvia May.

“We are already working with partners such as the local credit union, Bassetlaw Citizens Advice Bureau and A1 Housing to provide the best advice and support possible to our residents.”

On Tuesday night, the Cabinet of Bassetlaw Council voted in favour of the plans, which will support people during a continuing tough economic climate.

As well as improving advice and help, supporting job generation and improving properties to reduce the amount of energy and cost for heating the council will be producing a guide to make people more financially aware.

“This guide may help some people avoid getting into difficulties, or let them know where to get help if they are experiencing trouble,” continued Coun May.

“No one wants to see anyone lose one of the fundamentals in life - their home.”

The guide is aimed at those currently on benefit, employed and unemployed, low waged families and single people, A1 Housing tenants, private tenants and owner occupiers.

It will be available from the council, Credit Union and CAB and councillors are seeking guidance on other locations including doctors surgeries.

The advice from the council and other agencies is simple - don’t bury your head in the sand and hope the problem goes away.

“We have produced this advice for people that are finding life financially harder than they used to, and I know from experience, that you may be able to breathe in for a short time if the household budget is getting tight,” added Coun May.

“But it is that continual need to watch the pennies that sometimes stretches things and people may get to the stage when they are tempted to go for a payday loan, or worse, be taken advantage of by a doorstep lender or loan shark.”

Bassetlaw Council leader Graham Oxby welcomed the plans, and thanked officers and councillors for their hard work putting them together.

“It is a successful policy but it is a shame that we have to have it,” he told Tuesday’s meeting.

“We have got to be there for people when they need us most, and that time has come now.”

There are a number of places to get advice on money and debt issues. The Money Advice Service offers unbiased and free advice. Its advice line on 0300 500 5000 is open Monday to Friday from 8am-6pm.

Bassetlaw Citizens Advice Bureau can help make budget plans and ensure you are getting the benefits you are entitled to. Call 0844 856 3411 for opening times and more details.

This information and lots more will be available in the council’s guide, which is expected to be available by the end of the month.