Witney News - Support for debt and housing advice

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Support for debt and housing advice

A grant of £15,300 has been recommended by the District Council’s Cabinet to help provide debt and housing advice to people in need in West Oxfordshire.

The funding will go to West Oxfordshire Citizens Advice Bureau to help pay for a part-time caseworker over the next year.

The council has helped to fund the specialist work for the past four years. During that time, the worker has given assistance to hundreds of West Oxfordshire residents in need of debt and housing advice.

The advice worker is a qualified solicitor who provides independent help to anyone experiencing problems with debt, particularly those who are threatened with homelessness due to debt issues. This includes negotiating payment plans, defending court proceedings in order to help people keep their homes, as well as providing continuing support to help them stick to agreements with lenders and get back on track financially.

Cllr Jill Dunsmore, West Oxfordshire District Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “The CAB does some tremendous work in West Oxfordshire and the debt and housing advice service has made a real difference, particularly during the difficult times experienced since the start of the recession. The Council is committed to preventing homelessness and this provides a valuable tool in helping with this. We believe this funding is vital so that this excellent service can continue to be available to all of our residents in West Oxfordshire.”

The CAB experienced a 34% rise in the number of West Oxfordshire residents seeking housing advice in 2009, compared to 2007/8 – up from 944 to 1,295. It also experienced an 83% increase in the number of debt-related enquiries – up from 2,414 to 4.055.

During 2009, the council’s Housing Services team referred 87 potentially homeless people to the CAB for help with rent or mortgage issues. Homelessness was averted in 80 of these cases with help from the debt and housing advice service.

Barbara Shaw, Manager of West Oxfordshire CAB, said: “The Council has been extremely supportive of our work and has helped immensely with grant funding. This has enabled us to continue providing not only this service, but other advice and help on a wider range of issues. We are very grateful as this funding will secure the debt and housing service for another year, which means that we can carry on providing the specialist help that people need.”

The £15,300 will be given from a Homelessness Grant issued to the council from the government to help tackle homelessness.

The CAB is a charity which provides independent, confidential advice. In addition to specialist caseworkers, it has a workforce of trained volunteers and its service is available to everyone. Anyone experiencing debt or housing difficulties can contact the CAB on 01993 705691 (Witney) or 01608 641367 (Chipping Norton).

Posted : 26/02/2010 10:21:24

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