North East Somerset MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has added his support to an appeal for financially robust businesses and individuals to help Citizens Advice – Bath & North East Somerset. The charity is facing a challenging future due to the effects of Covid-19.
The charity is readying itself for a likely inundation of clients with debt issues in light of current events and forecasts of a significant recession. Having FCA accreditation makes Citizens Advice – Bath&NES a unique source of professional advice for matters concerning debt.
However, currently, they only have 3 debt specialists and will need to hire more staff to meet increasing needs. April has brought a near doubling of Universal Credit issues against April 2019 figures.
MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “I visited Citizens Advice in Bath in February and was most impressed by the dedication and commitment of its staff, who give expert advice and assist hundreds of constituents each year, providing an enormous amount of support to those who find themselves in difficult positions. The effects of Covid-19 will undoubtedly mean a significant increase in people needing help. Any support that can be given will be immensely valuable and most gratefully received.”
While many are hoping for a rapid end to lockdown Citizens Advice are anticipating a lengthy post-lockdown period of helping residents with the financial aftermath of Covid-19.
CEO of the charity, Les Redwood, stated: “Concerning debt and benefits, our FCA approval makes us a critical source of support for residents in the district. Unfortunately, we’re very low on trained debt caseworkers and there’s concern that we may not be able to help everyone.
“The consequences of debt are wide-ranging, with people facing eviction, child custody battles, threats of legal action and severe mental health issues. We want to prevent poverty from decimating our communities, so we’re asking for financially robust businesses and individuals to help us to help others.”
MP Wera Hobhouse has also called for support for the charity, highlighting the link between debt and poor mental health.
Bath and North East Somerset already has a suicide rate above the national average. Without additional funding, Citizens Advice may not be able to meet increased client demands and there is a worry that residents with mounting financial issues could take their own lives.