Debt advice service avoids funding axe

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A SOUTH Holland advice service will be able to continue supporting people struggling with debt after its funding avoided the axe.

South Holland Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) had feared that its face-to-face debt counselling service would be lost amid rumours a Government pot of £50,000 was to go as part of national spending cuts.

But, after weeks of worry, bosses at the service have been told that the funding will continue for the coming year after the government said it wanted people facing financial difficulties to get advice early rather than waiting until their problems spiralled out of control.

CAB manager Diane Clay said: “We are yet to receive the full details of this funding but we have been told we could still see a cut of about ten per cent.

“However, it’s good news for us because it means we can carry on our face-to-face advice at a time when it is likely to become more important as people continue to struggle financially.”

Nationally, a record 135,000 people were declared insolvent in 2010, with that figure expected to rise to 140,000 this year as the full impact of spending cuts are felt.

The government funding enables South Holland Citizen’s Advice Bureau to employ one full-time debt advisor, with funding from elsewhere providing an 18-hour a week case worker.

But Mrs Clay fears the service will face the same concerns next year, as the government funding is only guaranteed for 2011/2012.

She said: “We do not know what’s going to happen next year and we will have all this worry again then.

“We just limp along from year to year, but this year was even worse than usual because the debt funding was due to end in March and we have been kept waiting until now to find out what is going to happen.”

Mrs Clay is now waiting to hear what funding the CAB, based in The Crescent, Spalding, will receive from South Holland District Council.

A decision is expected by early March.

Lincolnshire County Council has already revealed it will provide the same level of funding as last year to fund CAB core services, pay staff and cover costs such as rent, heating and lighting.

Mrs Clay said: “Although funding from the county council will stay the same there will be no inflationary increase, which means it is a cut in real terms.

“We will have to look at it when we have the full picture but it is possible we will have to look at making a few savings.

“It will probably mean reorganising staff and possibly cutting a few hours, but we are hopeful that we will be able to maintain the services we provide.

“We are hoping South Holland District Council will give us the same funding as last year, which means we will be able to stay where we are and continue to provide services at pretty much the same level as we do now.”