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DEBT ADVICE HELPLINE - NEW PILOT SCHEME

Added: (Sat May 12 2001)

Pressbox (Press Release) - DEBT ADVICE HELPLINE NEW PILOT SCHEME -

A telephone debtline to give consumers easy access to free, high quality money advice will be established in UK.

The 12-month Fife pilot scheme - connecting callers with trained money advisors - will test out how effective telephone debt advice can be and assess how this can be developed across the UK.

Over 300 firms of Lawyers and Insolvency Accountants have worked together on the initiative.

Larry Johnson, Head of Debt Services said:

"Debt is a huge problem in our society, and it mostly affects those on low incomes.

"Money difficulties can be caused by an over commitment to credit, or by changing circumstances such as divorce, redundancy, or other personal crisis.

"Whatever the reason, we want people to be able to help themselves through free, impartial advice and support about money matters.

"At present demand for free advice outstrips supply, forcing many people, and often the poorest in our society, to seek help from fee charging services. It is not acceptable that those who have least have to pay most.

"We aim to a national debtline for UK."

Barry Lewis, Head of The Helpline's training scheme, which co-ordinates money advice training in the organisation, said:

"I am extremely pleased to learn that approval has been given for the setting up of a pilot debtline project in the UK and to be involved in establishing it.

"In the UK the demand for debt advice is increasing all the time. People wanting advice only will be able to access it through the debtline, freeing up my advisors to concentrate their efforts on those people with more serious problems which require face to face provision."

Recent research showed that of 152 money advice outlets, only 4 were open at the weekend and only 42 provided services during the evening. Increasing the use of the telephone should make advice more widely available and more easily accessible.

Chief Executive, Claire Redstone, said:

"For many individuals, a money advice service can be a lifesaver -in some ways, it is like an emergency service.

"Everyone should be able to access free advice at a time and pace that suits their particular needs. That is why we are particularly pleased that the the UK has accepted a pilot scheme for a national debtline in the UK."

Of repeat issues dealt with by Citizens Advice Bureau across Scotland - where clients need more than one visit to resolve a problem - almost 50% relate to consumer debt.

BACKGROUND

1. The UK Insolvency Helpline is to be the largest helpline in operation and is expected to start operation in the summer. Funding has come from the Law firms - 1m; the credit industry - 900,000; and 50,000 each from 250 operating firms.



News Release: 258/hgfd/iu/it
11 May 2001

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