This winter more people than ever will be forced to choose between paying to keep warm and having enough to eat. This is the unfortunate and tragic legacy of the debt crisis the UK finds itself in. The number of calls being taken by debt relief charities has reached record levels and foodbanks are offering a valuable food donation service to an increasing number of people in severe financial difficulty.
Such has been the increase in the number of people being referred to foodbanks that a trial scheme is due to start this month that will see clients offered debt and money advice in addition to food parcels at selected foodbanks. The Trussell Trust, which runs more than 420 foodbanks across the UK, has high hopes for the scheme. They believe it could revolutionise the way it works, with its foodbanks partnering with local authorities along with debt and money-management charities to provide instant financial advice to clients in the most extreme debt situations.
Will Mansell, project manager at Stroud District Foodbank, one of those selected to participate in the pilot project, welcomed the chance to get involved and believes there is long-term potential for debt and money management charity involvement at foodbanks.
The scheme, which is being part-funded by a six-figure personal donation from the man behind Moneysavingexpert.com, Martin Lewis, could not be coming at a better time. According to new research, more than one in ten UK families has resorted to a pay day loan to make ends meet in the last year. During the same period roughly a quarter of UK families have been left with the choice of falling into debt or not being able to provide basic necessities for their loved ones.
The cycle of debt that awaits those taking out pay day loans for a quick financial fix is very much something that the scheme wants to get across. David McAuley, the Trussell Trust’s chief executive, said: “By introducing a ‘financial triage’ service in foodbanks, where clients are able to connect with free financial and debt advice, people will be given professional help to manage tight finances, avoid pay day lenders and structure debt to prevent the situation from getting worse.”
The idea of combining debt advice with the service you regularly expect from foodbanks is a commendable one. Not only will it provide valuable money management guidance to those in financial difficulty, but its long-term availability will give people another reason to visit foodbanks besides sustenance and hopefully help to remove the stigma of receiving food charity.
Of course, free and independent debt advice is available right now at Council Tax Advisors. We are on hand to provide assistance with a whole range of debt problems, so that you can begin the process of achieving long-term debt relief. Visit our website for more information and contact one of our friendly and knowledgeable experts today to see how we can help.