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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 February 2007

Living in debt - with no advice

RECENTLY I spoke to someone who wanted to get help and advice over a couple of debt issues, a three-grand student loan and water rates.

Lynn Worthington, Wythenshawe Manchester

They had got a lovely colour leaflet from Manchester city council, about the advice services available to Wythenshawe residents. So they tried the city council telephone advice line, which was busy for hours.

Then next on the list was Wythenshawe legal advice, where they were informed that they would only be able to deal with one debt problem and that would be the water rates debt, as they were too busy. They were told to go to the drop-in centre.

This was madness. Were they expected to wait around to be seen, then when the water rates had been dealt with, go out and wait again?

Next on the list was Wythenshawe Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). They phoned them and the answering machine said they were not taking appointments. The office was closed. They hold advice services on certain days but only by appointment, no drop-in. There was an email address so they emailed for appointment. It bounced three times.

So they found the Manchester website where you can find an advice appointment anywhere. But there weren't any anywhere for three months. They had the details for Withington CAB, so they emailed them to tell them about the bounced emails. They emailed back saying Wythenshawe CAB was fully booked.

They then spotted another debt phone line. When they eventually got through, they were told there were no appointments for up to two months. The adviser asked what the problem was and gave some advice. She said: "If you want, I can send out a pack so you can do it yourself."

Free legal advice has been stripped bare from Wythenshawe. These are vital services in an area like this, a large working-class estate.

People on low wages and benefits, who rely on these services, are left out in the cold as their debt rises.

Legal and other costs are added to the debt before they can get free legal advice. This causes heartbreak and stress to many families. This is all before the downgrading of Manchester advice services. Rumour has it that the advice line may be axed.

Please send letters of protest against the downgrading and loss of wages for Manchester advice staff to council executive member Basil Curley: [email protected] Please send copies and messages of support to Jim Cessford, UNISON: [email protected]

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In The Socialist 22 February 2007:

Bush & Blair: Get out of Iraq

Iraq 'surge' doomed to failure

Italy: Thousands march against US military base


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

No to Trident!

North Korea: Talks achieve new accord

Anti-war, anti-nuclear, anti-capitalist? Read the socialist!


Socialist Students

Students can defeat fees

Another profit-making racket

Living in debt - with no advice

Defend further education


Socialist Party Congress

The politics of socialism


Socialist Party news and analysis

Justice for the Shrewsbury pickets

Children at the sharp end of British capitalism

Banking billionaires

Drug companies squeeze profits out of health

Hospitals crisis worsens

Fighting homophobia


Environment

Climate change - we have to act now


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

CWI world congress: How will new workers' parties be built?


Workplace news and analysis

Valentine's day protest

Unique Care workers plan more protests

Israeli postal workers storm trade union HQ


 

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