Fenland’s Big Lottery-funded money advice service has extended its reach in response to a greater need than ever, as local people struggle to manage their finances and pay mounting debts.
Cuts are biting deeper and incomes are being squeezed, driving many people, whether employed or not, to take out loans or turn to the Food Bank to feed their families, just to cover basic household bills.
To meet the rising demand for help, Making Money Count is now holding money advice sessions at the Wisbech Citizens Advice Bureau office every Thursday night.
The service is also visiting Fenland’s villages, as well as the district’s four towns, on board its New Horizons bus.
Specialist CAB adviser with the project, Sarah Bellow, said: “We thought things were bad when we launched last July but in 2014, for the first time ever, we’re seeing people whose budgets we can’t balance whatever we do.
“In the last twelve months food prices and travel costs have risen and more recently bedroom tax and the council tax rebate reduction scheme have kicked in too, putting households under pressure. The sums just don’t add up.
“Debts can spiral out of control when you miss payments, but you have to face up to them. We can help people do that in person or on the phone, or they can do it themselves by going to our website, www.adviceguide.org.uk.”
The aim is to reach people before their finances get out of hand.
Since April, Sarah and Moneymates volunteers have been providing their friendly ‘MyMoney’ drop-in at the Rural Cambs CAB training room at 7 Church Mews, Wisbech, between 5.30 and 7.30pm each Thursday.
Anyone can drop in with questions or concerns about their finances and get personal support towards using the free online access available to find the right solution for them.
Sarah said: “On the bus we offer a private room where we can give confidential advice but we’ve been surprised that many people are happy to share problems and budgeting tips with each other. The Thursday sessions are open on the same principle.”
For more information on Making Money Count services, and to get the latest bus times, visit: www.makingmoneycount.org.uk
For details of CAB centres or sessions in your area, visit: www.ruralcambscab.org.uk or phone 0844 245 1292.