‘Affluent’ East Devon has its share of people with debt problems

District council works with charity to offer free advice in the home

Despite East Devon being widely considered a relatively affluent district, look below the surface and there are likely to be people with serious debt issues – possibly as many as 1 in 8 of us.

East Devon District Council is pleased to announce a joint initiative with local charity Homemaker Southwest, which will offer free debt advice to individuals and families in their own homes.

Problems being experienced by residents of East Devon are symptomatic of a much wider – and better recognised – national issue of poverty and indebtedness.

Latest figures from the Government’s Money Advice Service show that over 9.1 million people in the UK are living indebted lives – and nearly 8.8 million consider that they have ‘serious’ debt problems.

Martin Sollars, of Homemaker Southwest, has estimated that in the East Devon area, using figures from the Money Advice Service, this works out at nearly 13,000 people with serious debt issues – or put another way 1 in every 8 of us.

Hidden problem

Martin said:

Often this is a hidden problem, with people finding it hard to confront their situation and not seeking reliable help. It is also where unscrupulous lenders lend to those who already cannot afford it and charge them extortionate interest rates.

Until now it has been difficult for people struggling with debt to access free face-to-face debt advice. What the Money Advice Service say is that Debt advice works, and the earlier people access it the better their chance of reaching good outcomes for themselves and their creditors.

We all know that high quality debt advice increases an individual’s wellbeing, it improves collection rates for creditors and it boosts the health of communities, leaving all of us better off.

Backing the joint initiative between his council and Homemaker, Councillor David Cox, cabinet member for finance, said:

Nobody wants to add to the woes of people who are struggling financially by piling more debt on their shoulders.

The council does have a duty to collect local taxes and there is an obligation for people to pay. But it’s in everybody’s interests to help those who are in genuine need of advice and consideration. So I’m pleased that through this latest initiative East Devon can build on its track record of taking an intelligent approach towards individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet.

Although Homemaker are based in Plymouth, they have a dedicated case worker who will travel around East Devon to see people in their own homes. I’m sure this will prove a very welcome and effective new addition to our service

Charities

Advisers working for debt help charities recognise that there is often more than one problem, so they recommend that all debts are dealt with together, rather than addressing a single issue at a time, and will look at a client’s situation holistically.

This way, other potential problems can be identified early or prevented and this helps to stop them growing into anything more serious. For a client struggling with unmanageable debt, the priority is always to:

  • preserve their home, fuel supplies and liberty
  • make them aware of their rights and responsibilities
  • help them to make informed choices about how they deal with their whole debt problem.

There are a range of telephone advice services that people struggling with debt can access and these can be found on the Money Advice Service’s website.

Alternatively you can contact the new service funded by the Money Advice Service which is specifically designed to provide free advice to people in their own homes across the towns and villages of East Devon, the South Hams and Teignbridge.

This service is delivered by Money Advice Plymouth, a part of Homemaker Southwest, and appointments can be arranged by telephoning 01752 208126 or by emailing enquiries@moneyadviceplymouth.org.uk.