London ,

Enfield charity receives £130,000 to extend debt advice to cope with Christmas overspend

With TUC figures showing that around one in six families borrows an average of £654 to pay for Christmas food and presents, Enfield Citizens Advice Bureau now supports around 12,000 local people who are primarily struggling with debt and benefits problems.

The Bureau has received a grant from the City of London Corporation’s charity, City Bridge Trust, which will fund a debt advisor to address the increasing poverty in the borough. Enfield is one of the areas in London where poverty is increasing substantially, and around 20% of working-age people are claiming out-of-work benefits.

Over three years, Enfield Citizens Advice Bureau plans to offer 540 additional advice appointments focussed on debt and benefits advice. It will also provide outreach sessions at the local credit union. The charity will work collaboratively with residents of a large council estate where 80 per cent live on benefits. As a result of the deprivation, residents also experience fuel poverty, heating failures and dampness in their homes.

Through practical advice and referrals, the charity helps residents to take positive steps to improve their economic situation and become more financially independent.

Jill Harrison, CEO of Enfield Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “The grant will increase our capacity as we move our service to one of the most deprived estates in the borough. There are so many reasons why people get into debt. Many of the residents here have been disproportionately impacted by the benefits cap, and others are simply struggling with stagnant wages that don’t cover the increase in living costs. The aim of our debt service is to ensure people get better advice, so they can tackle their debt problem before it becomes unmanageable.”

Jeremy Mayhew, Chairman of the City Bridge Trust, said: “Indebtedness can be a huge source of stress and unhappiness. The pressure of buying Christmas presents and food can force people to make risky financial decisions, so it is important that professional services are available to prevent debt problems worsening. Enfield Citizens Advice Bureau is helping some of the most vulnerable people in London, who often feel they do not have a voice. Our grant will help the charity plan for the future and extend its support to a growing number of residents in need.”

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