Labour MP for Newcastle North, Catherine McKinnell, has spoken out this morning in Parliament about the importance of saving debt advice services in Newcastle. Speaking during a Westminster Hall debate on the future funding of independent debt advice, Catherine urged Ministers to ensure that face-to-face services at Newcastle’s Citizens Advice Bureau continue to be properly funded beyond March 2011.
“I have serious concerns about the cuts to the Financial Inclusion Fund. It currently funds eight face-to-face debt advice workers at Newcastle’s CAB. In 2010, this team advised over 1,000 local people on an astounding £14.3million of personal debt. And in the last quarter of 2010 alone, the service saw over 300 clients – the highest number in the history of the project in Newcastle.
“Newcastle and the North East have the highest levels of personal insolvencies across the country. Just at the time when the demand for the service will be going up, there is going to be a catastrophic reduction in the free, confidential and independent debt advice that is available to people. It is simply reckless and irresponsible to remove access to debt advice when people are facing the toughest times ahead in terms of their personal finances with the VAT increase, rising fuel and energy prices and cuts across the public sector.
“I have already written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer about this issue but it is important that these concerns are also aired in the House of Commons, and I was therefore pleased to have the opportunity today to urge Ministers today to ensure that face-to-face debt advice services in Newcastle continue to be properly funded beyond March.”