Suffolk Advice and Support Service
We’re pleased to be part of a partnership of organisations offering Money Advice and Financial Capability assistance, as part of a new Suffolk Advice and Support Service free helpline: 0800 068 3131 set up in response to current need due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The helpline will offer information and support relating to debt, benefits, housing or employment.
It’s estimated that the number of people claiming Universal Credit in Suffolk has increased by 75% (around 24,000 people), since March and there has been a 238% rise in the amount of food handed out to single adults and families from Suffolk foodbanks. With the furlough scheme ending, it’s anticipated that more redundancies will be made and people will fall into debt as a result.
In response to the current situation, the partnership, comprising ACT, eight Citizens Advice Bureaux around Suffolk and Ipswich Housing Action Group (IHAG), has come together to offer money, debt and benefit advice to anyone in Suffolk that needs it.
Our advice to anyone suffering, whether as a result of COVID-19 or otherwise, is to get advice as early as possible. From our extensive experience of dealing with debt, it’s much easier to help people at an early stage as repayment agreements can be made; once debts have accrued substantially, it’s a more complex task. Managing finances in difficult times can be tough and one of our own specialities is helping people with financial capability; ensuring that you are able to manage your finances before any issues occur.
We know that many people who have been affected at this particular time, are people who have never claimed benefits before; have never had money problems; are proud to have always worked, and who may feel reticent about discussing their finances. We would like to make it clear that the helpline is totally confidential and the main reason for setting it up is that all of us in the partnership understand the current situation and how it’s affecting an unusually wide cross-section of the Suffolk population. The benefits system can be a complex one to navigate for those who have never experienced it before – the phone line has been set up to help with money management, with debt advice as well as benefits.
We urge everyone in Suffolk to share this number – this is a very difficult time for many people but the earlier problems are tackled, the easier they are to solve
Suffolk Advice and Support helpline: 0800 068 3131