West Suffolk: Debt centre is not seeing a lessening of demand

Darren Bullen, manager of the West Suffolk branch of Christians Against Poverty (CAP). Darren Bullen, manager of the West Suffolk branch of Christians Against Poverty (CAP).

Monday, April 14, 2014
3:00 PM

The UK economy has turned a corner, but a debt centre in west Suffolk is still seeing a steady stream of clients.

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Last winter Darren Bullen, manager of the West Suffolk Centre run by debt charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP), spoke of how desperate the situation was for some clients, who have gone without food to pay for heating.

In the centre’s first two years it has seen 120 people.

Speaking last week, Mr Bullen said: “We have been fully booked all the way and I haven’t seen the numbers getting any better. And the people I’m seeing on a day-to-day basis, they are just showing how desperate it is.”

He added: “As far as I’m concerned I’m expecting numbers to steadily increase.”

He said each month they were seeing five new clients on top of their existing ones.

He spoke of one couple where the husband had lost his job and “before too long things started getting out of control”.

“Suddenly one salary is gone and you go over the edge very quickly. I really don’t see any decline in demand,” he said.

CAP helps clients by dealing with letters they receive about their debts and they are set a budget with a timescale of how long it looks likely to be until they are debt-free.

The charity launched its Don’t Wait campaign at the end of last year as millions of people in the UK are suffering from debt, but only a small proportion are actually seeking help.

Mr Bullen said: “We were quite overwhelmed when we opened the centre (in west Suffolk) how quickly we got people coming through because the statistics show you people do take maybe up to three years to actually pluck up that courage to do it, to make the choice.

“It is hard. It’s embarrassing. There’s a lot of humility needed to do it.”

He said in the two-and-a-half years the west Suffolk centre had been open 18 clients had gone debt-free which was “fantastic”.

He said for almost all clients insolvency was the only realistic route out of debt. He said some of his clients had estimated repayment periods of between 300 and 500 years.

He said research carried out by CAP showed people in East Anglia are finding it the hardest in England to deal with levels of problem personal debts. He said low levels of income and comparatively high levels of debt meant people in this region struggle the most to pay back what they owe.

For more information on CAP visit www.capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006.

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