Suffolk Coastal: Leiston, Saxmundham and District Citizens Advice Bureau seeing increasingly more complex cases
- Credit: PA
A citizens’ advice bureau (CAB) is seeing increasingly more complex cases, with more families forced to seek help as wages fail to keep pace with the cost of living.
The situation is outlined in Leiston, Saxmundham and District CAB’s annual report for 2012/13.
Although its staff handled fewer cases last year – 10,466 compared to 11,076 in 2012/11 – the bureau’s manager, Nick Mayo, said the complexity had grown. The continually harsh financial climate has also seen more working families on low incomes looking for help.
“The need for free, impartial advice has never been greater,” Ms Mayo said. “Overall our figures are lower for 2012/13 but the advisers will be very quick to tell you that cases are becoming much harder.”
People wanting advice on benefits made up most of the cases, 1,906 in 2012/13 compared to 2,099 in 2011/12. Debt was second on the list, with 1,683 cases, compared to 2,291 previously. But the average debt per client has risen from £27,825 to £31,105.
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The CAB’s money adviser, Fiona Benham, says in her section of the report: “The increase in the cost of living without an increase in wages, combined with tiny benefit increases, has an impact on a different section of society; working people on already low salaries which have not kept up with the rising cost of living.
“This is a noticeable change, for example a family of four (two adults, two children aged under 14) running an elderly vehicle and dog with a net monthly salary of £1,200 to £1,300, the rest is made up of tax credits and child benefit to under £2,000 a month: there is no excess income whatsoever after all priority payments. Two or three years ago there would have been a little left over to satisfy creditors.”
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As well as its main office in Leiston the CAB runs outreach services in Saxmundham, Woodbridge, Framlingham and Wickham Market. Trial sessions are also launching at Rendlesham community centre on a Monday and Woodbridge Library on a Tuesday, between 10am and noon.
Bosses also thanked those who supported them with grants, including Suffolk Coastal District Council, Suffolk County Council, various town and parish councils, charitable groups and individual donations.