Hull’s Citizens Advice Bureau set to close in autumn


Records show that debt enquiries have hit record highs recently as higher mortgage repayments and rising utility bills means that households are struggling.

This has resulted in the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) being inundated with queries. However, one of the CAB’s busiest branches is being forced to close.

The branch in Hull, which has renegotiated debt for people who owed a total of £4.4 million, is set to close in the autumn and is feared to be the start of a trend.

The network has 400 branches and, as a result of a growing number of debt enquiries, the organisation has doubled its branches in the last decade.

A total of 60 volunteers and 55 paid workers will be axed as a result of the closure of the Hull bureau. Since January 2008, it has received 3,500 visitors with money troubles.

However, Hull City Council has voted to ditch the Citizens Advice in favour of a Government-backed advice initiative.

The Community Legal Advice Centre (Clac) would still provide free money advice for visitors, but would concentrate more on legal help.

However, the scheme is causing dispute as profit-making companies can bid to run the operation.

David Harker, CAB’s chief executive, said a crisis is building with soaring debt levels across the country. The Government should be enhancing and developing Citizens Advice bureaus, not closing them.

Citizens Advice bureaus are funded by grants from local and central Government. That funding is still available under the Clac scheme, but the service may be tendered to private companies.

The bureau in Hull costs around £1.2 million a year to run, £650,000 of this comes from the local authority.

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