Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Who needs specialist - and free - debt advice?

Kim does.
He ran his own hairdressing shop in London. Then he fell ill.
He was in hospital for three months. Now he has to pop in and out regularly.
He still gets tired and has to lie down in the day. He's trying to get better.
Kim had a mortgage, loans, credit cards and bills for heat and light to pay. But no income.
He was being pursued by creditors. He told me that they even rang him in hospital.
Kim had no prospect of making any payments. That made him useless to profit-making debt management companies, because they take their cut from repayments.
Luckily, in the hospital, someone came and recommended that he find free help from the Mary Ward Centre near Queen Square, central London.
It's a long haul.
But Kim has a big smile and he's using it, even though he's still sick.
One reason is that the financial pressure from creditors has been taken away, with the help of the Mary Ward's debt advisers.
I told Kim that ten advisers from the centre were losing their jobs.
They are casualties of the cuts. The Treasury is axing the Financial Inclusion Fund which pays their wages.
Nearly 500 specialist debt advisers around England and Wales have received redundancy notices.
When I asked Kim what the impact would be, he said:
"They've helped me a hell of a lot. I fear for other people who can't get the the help or wouldn't get the help. I think they probably would be devastated. I wouldn't like to be in their shoes."
And what if he had had to seek paid-for advice?
"I'd be stuck. In my situation I've got no income so I couldn't afford it. I don't think there'd be anyone out there to take my case on. I think they'd shut the door in my face."
I've written up the full story of the debt advice cuts here .

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