Debt advice service is a vital lifeline for families

Mo Farrah after missing out on a gold medal
				 Picture: Adam Davy

VERITY LUSH: Leave me to browse the make-up counter in peace

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It’s one of the bitter ironies of these troubled economic times that the average family’s cost of living is growing at an alarming rate just as its income is likely to be decreasing.

Salary freezes, job losses and huge hikes in prices of petrol, gas and electricity have all conspired to take their toll on the amount of cash people have available to spend.

But what is increasingly common is that it’s not just about people having to tighten their belts and rein in when it comes to the luxuries.

It’s now the case that a rising number of people are struggling to generate the cash they need just to make ends meet.

Our investigation today into the effects of the recession on people from all walks of life makes sobering reading. We’ve spoken to elderly people who warn that some older folk are afraid to put the heating on in cold weather because of the cost.

There’s the couple with children who have already been bailed out by relatives and are considering moving out of the city because they can’t meet their mortgage payments.

And there are the debt-ridden students who are supposed to be part of this country’s future success but are hamstrung by debt and poor job prospects before they even start.

On top of that we have the warning from Portsmouth’s debt advice service that it is seeing more people in deeper trouble than ever before.

At a time when services of all kinds are being cut across the country, it is heartening to be able to report, perhaps surprisingly, that more advisers are to be brought in to the city.

This is a far-sighted investment that should be commended. As the CAB itself points out, there is a danger than unscrupulous firms can take advantage of the opportunities left when free advice is not available, and pursue people who do not have enough knowledge of their rights to fight back.

It is comforting to know that an advice service is available for those who need it.

And we would urge anybody who is struggling financially to pick up the phone and use it.