Finance Minister announces extra £1.4m funding to boost household income and manage problem debt in Wales
Y Gweinidog Cyllid yn cyhoeddi £1.4m ychwanegol i gefnogi incwm aelwydydd a helpu pobl i reoli dyledion beichus yng Nghymru
Services that support people in Wales to manage problem debt and improve their household income are set to receive a £1.4m boost to help them respond to an increase in demand on their services.
Evidence shows the coronavirus crisis is placing acute financial pressure on people in Wales, with many experiencing a loss of household income, putting them at increased risk of falling into serious debt.
This new funding will bolster the debt advice services that are delivered through the Single Advice Fund, ensuring that those most vulnerable, such as private sector tenants, can access the advice and support they need to manage their financial situation.
Today’s announcement will also fund a range of initiatives that help people, particularly those most vulnerable, to claim the financial support available to them from the Welsh and UK welfare benefit systems.
Finance Minister, Rebecca Evans said:
“Whilst the coronavirus outbreak is affecting everyone, we know that it is having a more significant financial impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
“The funding I am announcing today will help those who are most at risk of debt because of loss of household income to better cope with their financial commitments.
“It is clear that the impact the pandemic has had on our economy will be felt for the long-term, and we will continue to seek to maximise services available as we recover from this crisis.”
Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt said:
“We know that people living with debt are more likely to experience mental health problems, so it’s vitally important they get the advice and help they need as early as possible.
“The debt advice services delivered through the Single Advice Fund are well known, accessible, and can offer early access to advice and support to the more vulnerable households across Wales.”
Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James said:
“The financial impact of the crisis is clear - many tenants in Wales are already falling behind or expected to fall behind with their rent payments.
“Advice services are invaluable in helping people build financial capability whilst supporting them to navigate through the benefit system to better understand what they may be entitled to and how to claim.
“This is part of a package of support we are looking at in Wales to make sure we provide more support, more quickly, to the people who need it the most.”
Notes to editors
The Welsh Government is committed to supporting information and advice services so that the most vulnerable people in our society have access to the free and impartial advice that they need on a range of issues, including debt, money management issues, housing and welfare benefits.
Through the Single Advice Fund, Welsh Government awarded £8.04m of grant funding for the provision of information and advice services during the period 1st January 2020 to 31st December 2020.
The Welsh Government website sets out what people can do about different housing issues and signposts them to further help and advice from organisations including Citizens Advice Cymru and Shelter Cymru.
Case studies are anonymised and fictional names have been used.
Debt advice example
Chris recently contacted Citizens Advice after he lost his agency job as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. Though he was claiming Universal Credit, he had found it difficult to adjust to a drop in his income. As a result, he had fallen behind on several bills, including his rent, electricity and council tax.
His adviser initially helped him to apply for the Discretionary Assistance Fund and a Discretionary Housing Payment to help him pay his rent. After working with Chris to complete a debt assessment, his adviser helped him to contact his creditors and sent holding letters on his behalf to stop further enforcement action to give Chris time to set up affordable repayments.
Income maximisation example
Sara called Citizens Advice because she and her family were at risk of being evicted from their home. Sara had been due to start a new job, but when this fell through because of Covid-19 she suddenly found herself with no money coming in. As a result, she fell behind on her rent and her landlord issued her an eviction notice.
Citizens Advice helped Sara to solve a problem that had delayed her Universal Credit claim, and supported her to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. Her adviser also wrote to her landlord to notify them that she would now be able to begin paying down her rent arrears, and request they put a hold on eviction proceedings to give Sara time to look for another property which would be suitable for her young family.