The Government’s Money and Pensions Service commissions debt advice through organisations like Citizens Advice which those struggling with debts can access for free.

This vital advice service has supported thousands of families across Bury and Bolton to manage their debts and get back on track, but under the Government’s current plans, access will be severely restricted from next year.

From April 2022, there will be a 53% reduction in the amount of funding available to Citizens Advice and the number of face-to-face debt advisers will be slashed in half.

Instead, the Government will be funding remote telephone and online advice services which are not appropriate or accessible for everyone and will create a postcode lottery of support.

The need for face to face debt advice has gone up, not down, as vulnerable groups are struggling with rent, Council Tax and other bills. Thousands of families are finding it hard to make ends meet.

People in Bury and Bolton will be hit even harder, as the North is set to get £3 million less than the South for debt advice services from April.

Helping people deal with their debt problems has a wide range of benefits. It can prevent and alleviate mental health problems, lessen the risk of homelessness, and improve the welfare of children living in debtor households. But services need to be properly funded.

Please write to your MP and urge them to intervene and call on the Government to pause the current commissioning process and rethink the plans before thousands across Bury and Bolton lose out on vital debt advice and support.

Cllr Kevin Peel

Kevin is a trustee of Citizens Advice Bury & Bolton but writes in a personal capacity