Personal Debt is Worse Than First Feared Says Citizen's Advice Bureau

PERSONAL debt in Ely is worse than first feared, with debt advisors in the city helping with more than �9million-worth of debt in the last financial year. Volunteers at Citizens Advice Bureau in the city saw a nine per cent increase in the level of new de

PERSONAL debt in Ely is worse than first feared, with debt advisors in the city helping with more than �9million-worth of debt in the last financial year.

Volunteers at Citizens Advice Bureau in the city saw a nine per cent increase in the level of new debt, and the average amount of debt per family rose from �21,000 to �25,000.

Debt in Ely rose to �9.6million in 2008/09, compared with �6.6million in the previous year.

Advisors have been inundated with calls from people hit hard by the credit crunch but say they are managing to cope with the increase in demand.


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A massive �34,000 has been ploughed into debt advice services in Ely - part of a county-wide "help package" worth half-a-million pounds.

The package was co-ordinated by Cambridgeshire Together, a group of public sector and voluntary organisations whose aim is to improve the quality life in Cambridgeshire.

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A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Together said: "As a result of the current economic downturn, many people in Cambridgeshire are facing severe financial pressures so we've endorsed a package of financial help of �500,000 over the next two years to boost voluntary organisations working to support the community across Cambridgeshire. We want to ensure the money provides an immediate boost and sustainable ongoing support.

"The Citizens' Advice Bureau is a group which provides invaluable support and advice to people who are in danger of losing their homes or jobs or need a broad range of advice and support.

"This package of support is real, timely and much needed by the voluntary sector. It shows how serious we are about leading and helping our communities through the recession and ensuring that the support is spread across the entire county and assists as many members of the Cambridgeshire community as possible."

Since the package was announced, work has been going on to identify the best way to ensure the money provides an immediate boost and sustainable ongoing support to the local community.

Manager of Ely CAB, Beverley Howard, gave a presentation to East Cambridgeshire District Council recently, explaining how the organisation is helping local people come to terms with the effects of the economic downturn.

Cllr David Brown, chairman of external partnerships review committee, said: "This downturn has been labelled a white collar recession with many people losing their jobs and facing real hardship for the first time in almost a generation. We have seen how many organisations have tried to bring the lessons which have been learnt in the past to help people in the present.

"In order for the district council to provide the help and support our residents need in these difficult times, we asked the Citizen Advice Bureaux to give a presentation about how the downturn is affecting our communities."

He said the presentation was used to help the council "help the right people at the right time".

INFO: CAB advice line 0845 130 6442, open 9.15am- 1.30pm Monday to Friday.

* Ely office: Drop-in opening hours Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 9.30am-noon. Debt and benefit advice drop-ins - 1-3pm, Monday, Tuesday at the bureau, 70 Market Street .

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

* Littleport - 10.30am to 12.30am at St George's Medical Centre, Parsons Lane

* Burwell - 9.30am to 11.30am at Trinity Rooms.

www.elycab.org.uk

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