Citizens Advice granted £33m for debt campaign

Graham Willgoss

Citizens Advice has been awarded £33m by the Department of Trade and Industry to help tackle the UK's personal debt mountain.

The DTI's Face-to-Face Debt Advice Project, designed to tackle severe debt in England and Wales, will provide the cash over two years.

The funding will allow Citizens Advice Bureaux to recruit and train 370 more full-time specialist debt advisers, who will be trained to deal with about 100,000 more people with low incomes and serious debt problems.

Nearly 200 bureaux will be involved, many of them working in partnership with independent advice providers such as Advice UK. Some of the funding is for joint bids with partner organisations.

David Harker, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said the funding represented a vote of confidence in the debt advice already offered by CABs.

"Day in, day out, our advisers see evidence of how personal debt problems are overwhelming large numbers of people," he said. "This has potentially devastating personal and social consequences, including a huge impact on health, homes and family lives."

Citizens Advice dealt with 1.25 million new debt problems in England and Wales in 2004/05. The number of debt inquiries it deals with has almost doubled since 1997.

The DTI approved a total of 14 bids for a share of its £45m fund. The successful bids target specific social groups or geographic areas where financial exclusion is known to be a problem.

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