Covid has not only attacked people’s physical health. With the collapse of the economy and so many businesses forced to shut and make staff redundant – or workers put on reduced hours – its has left many suffering financial hardship. And for those who already had problems – it has plunged many of them into crisis.
East Suffolk Council and its three local Citizens Advice services have launched a new campaign to remind residents with financial worries that free support and advice is still available.
To encourage people to talk about any money worries they have to avoid financial problems building up over time, East Suffolk Council and East Suffolk’s Citizens Advice services (CAs) have joined forces and launched a new campaign, titled ‘Money Matters – Managing Debt Together.”
Citizens Advice may not be doing face to face consultations – but they are still open and operating. The aim of the campaign is to direct people to the CAs, which provides free, independent, impartial, and confidential quality assured advice to those with money worries. The team can talk about any financial issues people may have – whether this is advice on debts, or if you’re worried about going into debt in the current climate – and explain the options and solutions available to address the issue.
The Government has recently announced a £38 million support package for debt advice providers helping people affected by Coronavirus.
Responding to the announcement of additional funding for the debt advice sector, Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, says:
“As coronavirus continues to take its toll on household incomes, it’s likely many people will be falling into debt. It’s vital they’re able to access free, impartial and confidential advice to help them manage their finances in this tough situation. That’s why today’s announcement of much-needed funding for debt advice is good news.
“We’ll continue to work with the government, the Money and Pensions Service, and our partners in the sector to ensure people struggling with debt get the help and support that they need.”
- Citizens Advice offers Pension Wise services at 500 locations in England and Wales.
- Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
- To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
- For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133
- Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.
- To talk to someone from one of the CAs teams, call 0330 107 5627 or email email@example.com Monday – Friday between 9.30am – 4pm.
Or to find your nearest CAs, go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/search-for-your-local-citizens-advice/?q=&q2=&c=SERP-BUREAU
Citizens Advice, the official consumer watchdog for energy, has also welcomed industry regulator Ofgem’s new and permanent protections for customers using prepayment meters and those struggling to pay their bills.
If you think you can’t afford to pay for any extra gas or electricity used because you’re having to self-isolate at home, support will be available through your energy supplier. Your supplier must take into account how much you can afford, and will explain your options.
The government has also launched an emergency package with energy suppliers to ensure you don’t face any additional hardships in heating or lighting your home during the coronavirus outbreak. If you are struggling with money problems or are repaying a debt, options will include:
- reviewing bill payment plans, including debt repayment plans
- payment breaks or reductions in how much you pay
- giving you greater time to pay
- in some cases access to hardship funds
No credit meters will be disconnected during the outbreak.
Cllr Letitia Smith said: “If you’re worried about money, it is important to know that you are not alone. Free support is available in East Suffolk, and we urge people to talk to us about any financial worries they may have, whether big or small.
“No one will judge you for any decisions that you have made that have led to money problems. Our Citizens Advice are here to help and suggest ways to deal with debt and offer advice on ways to manage your money.”