Citizens Advice Cornwall is launching a new telephone debt advice service to help with the expected surge in inquiries caused by the coronavirus lockdown.
From Friday, 29 May, people will be able to call the debt team on 01752-850488 on Fridays and Mondays (calls charged at providers’ normal rate). They will be able to speak directly to a Debt Adviser for advice. Or, if lines are busy, they will be asked to leave a message and an adviser will call them back within three working days. Alternatively, they can text the word DEBT to 78866 at any time, and again, receive a call back from an adviser.
Newly published figures show that In 2019/20, our debt advisers helped people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly write-off £5.6 million worth of debt and reschedule £1.7 million in repayments.
In the last year (2019/20) 21% of people who came to use needed advice on debt issues – the third largest category of advice we dealt with in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Citizens Advice Debt Project Lead, Pippa Cann, said:
“Before the coronavirus outbreak, dealing with debt was a major issue in Cornwall, but the lockdown is expected to greatly increase debt levels as people struggle to make ends meet.
“We are particularly concerned for people who are finding their debts unmanageable or maybe approaching a crisis point – although the earlier people contact us the better able we are to help them through their issues.”
The main debt arrears in Cornwall in 2019/20 were unsecured loans (£2.6m), credit cards (£2.4m), water bills (£600k), council tax (£507k), overdrafts (£393k) catalogue and mail order (£368k) and income tax arrears (£296k).
Other debts included rent arrears (£255k), benefit overpayment (£242k), hire purchase (£213k), mortgage arrears (£201k) and tax credit overpayments (£188k).