Wakefield Council urges people to seek help with money problems and debt

Wakefield Council and its partner organisations are launching a new campaign to encourage people to seek help if they are experiencing money problems and debt.

The impact of the coronavirus has been felt by many residents and has left households with less income than before.

Understandably, many people have found themselves experiencing money problems and some have taken on new or additional debt to make ends meet. This can cause great stress and worry, but help is available to manage money and get on top of debt.

Maureen Cummings smiling
Cllr Maureen Cummings

Residents who are struggling to pay their bills, or owe money that they can’t pay back should not just ignore the problem. They are encouraged to visit their local Hub where advisers are on hand to talk about people’s individual situation and offer practical support.

Cllr Maureen Cummings, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Poverty and Health, said: “We know it has been a very difficult time for many people across our district who have had their income affected by coronavirus. Struggling to make ends meet and being in debt can be extremely worrying, but please don’t let it become the elephant in the room. Your local Hub has friendly advisers to talk to, so take that first step and get in touch with them: they are here to help you.”

The friendly Hub advisers will:

  • never judge anyone or make them feel bad about their situation
  • always be happy to talk to people, however big or small their problem might be

They can look at each person’s situation and check whether they are able to claim additional help or take steps to improve things. For example, they might be able to claim benefits or get more money on their current benefits if:

  • they have had coronavirus, or are following guidance to stay at home
  • they have lost their job 
  • they are self-employed and can’t get work
  • they can’t work because their workplace has closed 

A Hub adviser can also refer people to a qualified debt adviser to find ways to manage debts even if they think they have no spare money or suggest ways to deal with debts that they might not know about.

That includes the new Breathing Space scheme that came into effect on Tuesday 4 May, giving people temporary protection from most types of debt collection while they take action to get on top of their debts. 

People can apply through a debt adviser for 60 days’ Breathing Space. They must continue to engage with their debt adviser and not take out any new borrowing over £500 in this time. They will also have to continue to make certain types of payments, including ongoing housing costs, utility bills, and taxes.

A debt adviser will ultimately advise on whether Breathing Space is suitable for someone while they identify a longer term debt solution. If they are being treated for a mental health crisis, a separate scheme (Mental Health Crisis Debt Respite) applies. 

Simon Topham, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Wakefield, said: “We have advisers who can look at a range of money worries, including qualified debt advisers who are on hand to talk to people and help find ways to manage debt effectively. They can advise you on the best way forward, and help you to access the right kind of support. Most people who seek debt advice tell us that they feel less stressed or anxious and more in control of their life again.”

To find your local Hub or get information online, please visit www.wakefield.gov.uk/hub