Gwent advice office handled £11m worth of debt queries

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MORE than £11.7 million-worth of debt was handled by Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) last year, the organisation has revealed.

Three of the people who have approached the CAB for help from across the two counties will appear on a documentary being broadcast tonight on BBC One Wales, called Living on the Never Never.

The bureau says it is seeing up to 20 new debt clients a week with an average of £12,597 owed per person.

Its staff are supported by around 100 trained volunteers, working at four offices across Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent.

From April 2013 to March this year, Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent CAB handled £11,703,341 worth of debt, of which £1,412,366 was urgent and £10,290,975 non-urgent.

Across Wales individual CAB branches dealt with almost 105,000 debt issues in the past year, accounting for 31 per cent of all its enquiries in 2013/14.

Simon Ellington, director of Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent CAB said: “For many people being in debt can be stressful, the pressure can exacerbate health issues, cause relationship problems and, in extreme cases, drive people to suicide.

“Our debt advisers can assist in finding a permanent and sustainable solution.”

Tonight’s programme features a former social worker from near Ebbw Vale, named Cath, who found herself struggling after her life changed due to divorce and losing her job.

As a result of health problems aggravated by anxiety, she is now in mortgage arrears and defaulting on electricity and gas payments.

Helen from the Blackwood area visits the CAB after her husband, a former serviceman, was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and is trying to find a solution to their money issues, including payday loans.

The programme will be aired on BBC One Wales tonight at 10.45pm.

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