Demand for debt help soars

Fleetwood Town Council offices on Poulton Road.

Fleetwood Town Council offices on Poulton Road.

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Money worries are behind the huge surge in people using a charity’s support service in Wyre, new figures today show.

More than 1,300 people have called on the Citizens’ Advice Bureau for help in the past six months alone – with the bulk of the demand coming from Fleetwood.

The charity reported a 35 per cent rise in its workload last year, and early figures for this financial year suggest the trend is set to continue.

Figures given to Wyre councillors – as they consider extending the charity’s funding for two more years – show concerns over debt and benefits are the main reasons people turn to the CAB for help.

Bill Barrow, vice-chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, and an advocate who works alongside the CAB, said: “I don’t think we are ever going to be short of work.

“The pressure is on as far as the benefits system is concerned, and we are always hearing about people getting sanctioned – it’s an on-going situation.

“The numbers are picking up, and they will grow because more people are now aware of the fact the service is now available.”

In 2012/13, Wyre CAB received 795 calls relating to debts and benefits. That figure rose to 1,195 the following year.

In that time, the number of clients coming from the Fleetwood area almost doubled, rising from 645 to 1,160.

The statistics are included in a series of reports being presented to members of Wyre Council’s CAB scrutiny review group on Monday.

The committee’s recommendations will be submitted to the cabinet, which will decide whether the council’s £30,000-a-year funding for the charity will continue beyond May.

The report to councillors claims the advice bureau’s services have been key in helping reduce unemployment and homelessness, as well as cutting crime by tackling re-offending.

It adds: “There is clear evidence of a continued need for the public to be able to obtain CAB advice to help resolve their legal problems. During 2013, Wyre CAB advised 2,736 clients and their families.

“These legal advice services significantly contribute to alleviating family and child poverty, and the effects of health inequality.”

The new citizens’ advice service in the port, which has been offering a partial service from the town council office on Poulton Road for several weeks now, officially opened yesterday.