Norfolk debtors to have support service cut

Debtors in Norfolk are to have their support network slashed as the government withdraws funds for debt advice case workers.

The service, which offers help to vulnerable people in financial difficulty, will lose four key workers in Norfolk and one in Suffolk when the tax year ends in April.

Debt workers discovered they faced the axe when the government announced they would not continue the financial inclusion fund when it runs out on March 31 2010.

It means the Norfolk Community Law Service on Redwell Street, Norwich will no longer offer debt advice, whilst Norwich & West Norfolk Citizens Advice Bureau on Vedast Street, Norwich, will see its service significantly reduced.

Meanwhile, Diss, Thetford & District Citizens Advice Bureau, Yare Valley & District Citizens Advice Bureau and North East Suffolk's Citizens Advice Bureau will all lose a worker each.

Steve Wiseman, Chief Executive of Norwich & West Norfolk Citizens Advice Bureau, said: 'The timing to withdraw the financial inclusion fund is poor because it is during a period when the economy is in bad shape and there are lots of people struggling to deal with debt. We hope government will come up with some alternative funding to deal with an increasing demand for debt advice.'

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.

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They rely solely on government funding in order to pay their wages, and although it is believed some will be able to find other work within the Citizens Advice Bureaus, many will lose their jobs entirely.

Rosie Hill, Money Advise Supervisor for Norfolk Community Law Service, said: 'I would still urge people to contact us or the Citizens Advice Bureau. We will not turn people away, we will take their details and if can help them then we will call them back. If people have got themselves in financial difficulty the last thing we want is for them to think they wont be helped.'

A parliamentary debate to discuss the future of funding independent debt advice is to take place on Tuesday February 8 2011.