Demand for Citizens Advice

Debt worries, family problems and changes to the benefits system are set to cause a surge in visits to Daventry’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

More than 600 people are expected to descend on Citizens Advice Daventry and District in the coming weeks, while according to figures released by the national charity, Monday saw 2,000 across the United Kingdom seeking help to deal with debt after Christmas.

Anne Bamfield, manager at the bureau in Daventry, said January traditionally brings with it a rise in the number of people seeking help with debt issues. But this year, with the implementation in February of the new Universal Credit benefits system and a cut in the council tax support offered to residents, Ms Bamfield said she expected demand to be higher than ever.

She said: “Quite often this doesn’t happen until February or March, when people get the first of their bills. We are likely to be having quite a busy time coming, also because of the introduction of Universal Credit.”

Daventry’s CAB helps around 550 people each month on a range of issues, and last January saw this figure jump to 615. Ms Bamfield said she expected the jump in demand jump again this year.

On a national level, last January saw a 27 per cent increase in the number of people seeking help for debt problems compared to the December before.

Debt problems caused by taking out credit like overdrafts, payday loans and credit cards rose by higher than the average as bureaux helped with 32 per cent more every working day of January 2014 compared to December 2013.

The highest increase was catalogue debt which was up 39 per cent, followed by payday loans at 34 per cent.

“We would urge people with debt to come in to see us before things escalate to bailiffs and legal proceedings.” Ms Bamfield said. “But people forget we are here to offer help and advice on a range of issues; we are not just a debt advice service.”