Felixstowe: Resort’s �7 million debt problem highlighted by CAB

HUNDREDS of people in the Felixstowe area are today trapped in a bleak spiral of debt as recession continues to bite – with the fear of worse to come, it has been claimed.

Total debts of people who have sought help from the town’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau currently stand at nearly �7 million.

But the bureau itself is facing financial worries – and a constant campaign for funding to ensure it can carry on helping those in need.

Officials say councils would find it hard to find the money to provide the services the CAB gives if the bureau closed.

Manager Barbara Rose said volunteer advisors give 284 hours a week of their spare time to help others, and are worth around �216,000 a year – yet one council had reduced grant aid.

“We all understand the council’s need to save money but with new legislation and benefits, high unemployment and the huge influx of debt problems, we are going to find our services are even more vital – yet we are struggling for funding,” she said.

“Where would the most vulnerable people in society go for help if we are not there? We must keep our funding.”

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Over the past year the bureau in Orwell Road has dealt with more than 17,000 inquiries, with hundreds of those people suffering problems of mounting bills and worried about jobs, mortgages arrears, unpaid council tax, paying for heating, lighting and food.

Treasurer David Wardle said: “What worries me tremendously is that councils will feel the need to reduce grants again next year and there is no way we could cope with that, and so I will be lobbying strongly and showing councils how much the grant they give the CAB helps people.”

Outgoing bureau chairman Doreen Savage, a Suffolk Coastal councillor, said: “We fought very hard to keep the funding as it was but reductions were made across the grants, not just to the CAB. We will keep up the fight.”

? How vital is the CAB? Has the bureau helped you? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk