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Debt tops list of troubles



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Newark and District Citizens’ Advice Bureau continues to deal with more inquiries about debt than any other issue.

The bureau, on Castlegate, Newark, helped 1,850 people in 2007-8, a decrease of 4.1% on 2006-7.

It was suggested the reduction could have been because of a change in opening hours — the bureau is now open longer hours over three days instead of four.

More than half (54%) the advice given related to debt and benefits inquiries.

Other issues included employment, housing, relationships, legal issues, utilities, finance and consumer issues.

The chairman of Newark CAB, Sheila Roberts, presented the annual report at the 17th annual meeting in Newark Town Hall on Friday.

She said the bureau failed an audit with three major non-compliances relating to governance, financial reports to trustees and review of service deliveries but an audit in January was successful and confirmed sufficient progress had been made against all of the targets set in the bureau’s audit action plan.

Sheila Roberts said the success of the bureau in turning around the audit non-compliances was down to the then manager, Mrs Sarah Pulford, who left in May to take up a new position with the Lincoln bureau.

The manager’s job has been split into two roles — one responsible for the strategic planning and funding of the bureau and the other an advice service manager to oversee the quality of advice.

A new manager, Mr Neil Clurow, has taken over and it is hoped an advice service manager will be appointed soon.

The treasurer, Mr Malcolm Ellison, said the total income for the year ending March 31 was £98,989 and the total expenditure was £100,327, which gave a small deficit of £1,338. He said the reserves by the end of the year were £34,913, which would keep the service running for six months.

The number of hours for which the debt team was financed by the Financial Inclusion Fund was cut from 37 to 181/2 hours per week.

Helen Sutton, the debt supervisor, said throughout the year there was an average of 30 new clients per quarter. She said their problems ranged from simple one-off debt to complicated issues involving court representations and bankruptcy.



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