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Reprieve for debt advice in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 15:00 17 February 2011 | UPDATED: 15:22 17 February 2011

Citizens Advice Bureau debt feature. Chief excutive Steve Wiseman.
Photo: Paul Hewitt
Copy:Laura Devlin
For:EDP news
EDP pics © 2008
(01603) 772435

Citizens Advice Bureau debt feature. Chief excutive Steve Wiseman. Photo: Paul Hewitt Copy:Laura Devlin For:EDP news EDP pics © 2008 (01603) 772435

Debtors in Norwich have been thrown a life-line after the government announced it would inject £27m into the free debt advice service offered by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

The money means that a debt case worker will remain at the Norwich & West Norfolk CAB for another year, despite fears that the government would slash the Financial Inclusion Fund that paid for them.

But workers at Norfolk Community Law Service are concerned over whether the money will reach all free debt advice services in the county - and it is not clear whether their debt advisor’s role will be saved.

Rosie Hill, money advice supervisor for Norfolk Community Law Service, said: “At the moment we are cautiously optimistic because we do not know if the money will reach us.

“Money previously came through the Citizens Advice Bureau and whether they will keep it for themselves or pass it on has yet to be decided.

“We hope it will be good news, but we have yet to breath a sign of relief. In the mean time we cannot take on any more clients.”

Norfolk looked set to lose four debt case workers in total - one from Norfolk Community Law Service, another from Norwich & West Norfolk Citizens Advice Bureau, another from Diss, Thetford & District CAB, and a fourth at Yare Valley & District CAB. A post was also at risk at North East Suffolk’s CAB. Some of the workers had already been told they were facing redundancy.

But business secretary Vince Cable has announced that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills would provide the £27m funding for the 500 debt case workers across the country.

Steve Wiseman, chief executive of Norwich & West Norfolk CAB, said: “Because of the lobbying our workers are going to remain with us for the next year, and the numbers may increase with the growing unemployment across the country.”

“We are pleased that the government has listened to our concerns and that the project can continue because it is such a big area of our work.”

Debt case workers help people to address their arrears by drawing up a budget and offering the best advice on how to deal with creditors, bankruptcy and debt relief orders.

Do you have a story about how cuts are affecting people? Contact reporter Ben Woods on 01603 772439 or email ben.woods@archant.co.uk.

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