Debt Matters

Debt Matters

Shepton Bassett Borough Council has just announced that it is doubling the grant that it makes to a local debt advice charity. Councillor Albert Tomsk explains:

So many people are struggling with debt at this present time and we would be failing in our civic duty if we did not direct a significant portion of our budget to this issue. Our funding enables the Shepton Bassett Debt Advice Service to tackle crippling debt problems head-on, by providing free debt counselling to individuals who really need their help.

Linda Sterling is the chief operating officer of Shepton Bassett Debt Advice Service. She explains what help is available to people struggling to make ends meet.

At this time, more and more people are experiencing debt issues. We do a lot of work raising awareness of debt, via an extensive poster campaign, leaflets and roadshows. I have even been on the local community radio station! Our slogan is "Debt Matters", and you have probably seen this on one of the pens, baseball caps or shopping trolley tokens that we regularly give away at debt awareness-raising events.

We also provide a drop-in session in the library on the first Tuesday of the month, and here people who are experiencing debt can come and discuss their problems and the difficulties they face in meeting their financial obligations. We like to think that through our service we can help them to tackle their issues head-on and empower them to become more positive about their situation.

Alf Cheese recently found himself unemployed. He is struggling to pay his electricity and gas bills, and his rent arrears mean that he is facing the prospect of losing his home. He explains what help Shepton Bassett Debt Advice was able to give him.

I went along to one of their sessions and spoke to a debt adviser. She was very nice. She started by trying to raise my awareness of my debt situation. I was already aware of it, and I made her aware of it by telling her how much I currently owed to my energy provider and my landlord. She was very sympathetic and attempted to empower me by telling me that I shouldn't worry; I should try to gain control of my debts and tackle them head-on. When I asked her how exactly I might do this, and what help was available, she was very apologetic and said that there wasn't much that she could do for me on that score, and that I should probably try Citizens Advice. Before I left, she told me that I should be positive and gave me a trolley token that said "Debt Matters" on it, which was nice.

It's not the Debt Advice Service's fault, I'm sure they're doing the best they can, but there just doesn't seem to be any help out there for people in my position. To make matters worse, I've just received this year's council tax bill and it's gone up again. In fact, it's almost forty percent higher than it was last year. Forty percent! Makes you wonder what the council spends its money on.

 

Debt Matters

 

Taken from The University of the Bleeding Obvious Annual 2022
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