Average Debt For Familes in East Cambs is £25,000

PUBLISHED: 10:09 18 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:46 04 May 2010

AVERAGE debts for families in the Ely area stand at £25,000 say advice services that have been inundated with calls from people who just can t cope. Citizen s Advice Bureau manager Beverley Howard says the charity has helped with £8-million-worth of debt

AVERAGE debts for families in the Ely area stand at £25,000 say advice services that have been inundated with calls from people who just can't cope.

Citizen's Advice Bureau manager Beverley Howard says the charity has helped with £8-million-worth of debt in the first nine months of the financial year - compared to £6.6million for the whole 2007-08.

Average debt per person in 2008 was already at £21,000 - but the sheer numbers of those seeking advice in January as the recession starts to bite has pushed combined figures sky high.

"Many of our clients have found themselves in financial difficulty often for the first time, through loss of work or other circumstances beyond their control," said Mrs Howard, whose team can help with anything from money worries to benefit and employment issues.

"We are finding that people are experiencing different kinds of problems," she added. A drop in houses prices has led to increasing numbers of householders in negative equity. Selling a house and down-sizing - previously a practical solution for those in debt - has become fraught with financial difficulty.

But Mrs Howard emphasised that Citizen's Advice is there to help - and although they have a huge volume of calls - people are being urged to get in touch before their problems become too entrenched.

"We would encourage anyone with problems with debts or claiming their benefits to seek advice as soon as possible," she said.

CAB has regular contact with the housing department at the district council and if they can't help, they will put you in touch with someone who can. Specialist help on tax help for older people, and trading standards clinics are available monthly, and each Friday free legal advice for those people eligible for legal aid is on-hand.

An extension of the service has been possible with funding from East Cambs LPSA and the county council, which has been used to keep open Littleport and Soham benefit clinics, and another in Burwell.

INFO: Citizens Advice Bureau advice line on 0845 130 6442, open 9.15am-1.30pm Monday to Friday.

nEly office: Drop-in opening hours Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 9.30am-noon

Debt and benefit advice drop-ins available: - 1-3pm, Monday and Tuesday at the bureau at 70 Market Street, Ely .

Soham - Care and Repair, Churchgate Street, Wednesdays, 9.30am-12.30pm

Littleport - 10.30am to 12.30am at St Georges Street.

Burwell - 9.30am to 11.30am at Trinity Rooms.

www.elycab.org.uk.

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