Day after day we see decisions made by the UK government that betray a total lack of joined up thinking and baffle common sense. As the state of the British economy puts more strain on individuals’ finances, levels of personal debt have never been higher, with one survey suggesting that as many as 40% of UK adults are worried about their personal debts. Many people have resorted to seeking advice from fee-charging debt management firms which enjoy a high profile through advertising, although a recent crackdown by the Office for Fair Trading has revealed that the practice of exploiting and misleading vulnerable people is widespread through this sector.
So there is a great and growing need for free and impartial debt advice. Why then, as reported by BBC News, is the government axing funding which will mean that next month 500 skilled debt councillors will lose their jobs? The article quotes Teresa Perchard of Citizen’s Advice:
“It just doesn’t stack up, unemployment is rising, the economy is in a difficult situation and there is an increasing demand for debt advice and at this time to lose frontline services in local communities doesn’t seem to make sense.”
As one of the soon-to-be-redundant debt councillors notes, it is not that this ervice is underused:
“Not only am I going to lose my job but the service is going to go, the service that sees thousands queuing outside the door on busy days, appointments booked up weeks in advance and that’s all going to be lost.”
The BBC sought a response from the Treasury, which lamely stated that a new web and phone based service would be introduced and would be able to refer cases to specialists.
Well, from March there will be 500 less specialists to refer cases to, and if people are already waiting weeks for an appointment the level of service is hardly going to improve. No doubt it will be charities and volunteers that somehow will have to fill the gap.