Debt advice charities to share £15m

Two national charities are to share more than £15m of funding to provide debt advice to people in financial difficulty as part of yesterday's Pre-Budget Report.

Citizens Advice is to receive £10m and the Money Advice Trust will be given £5.85m, the Treasury said.

Chancellor Alistair Darling said it was important that families worried about their finances were able to get expert and impartial advice.

"So I am announcing today £15m of new funding for free debt advice, available to everyone, regardless of circumstances, available across the country," he said.

Citizens Advice, the umbrella body for individual bureaux in England and Wales, said the money would enable three-quarters of its branches - about 320 offices - to open an extra five hours per week.

Teresa Perchard, director of policy at Citizens Advice, said: "With this money, Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales should be able to help up to 335,000 more people a year, an increase of 17 per cent."

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said the funding would enable the charity to boost its workforce for the services it runs. "Additional funding for National Debtline and Business Debtline will allow us to expand capacity and recruit an additional 45-50 advisers during 2009," she said.

Kevin Curley, chief executive of local umbrella body Navca, said he was pleased to see additional cash made available for debt advice because it would help small voluntary organisations.

The report's help for homeowners and jobseekers should also provide relief for local charities, he said.

"There was some good news for organisations trying to cope with the effects of the recession at a local level," he said. "Both help for people struggling with their mortgages and £1.3bn for the unemployed will relieve some of the burden.

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