Debt Advice Handbook
Child Poverty Action Group
STAR RATING: 5/5
Personal debt in the UK is out of control, writes Gary Vaux. It is out of control for consumers, who are facing higher levels of debt than at any time in history. It is out of control for many lenders, who are having to make greater provision for “bad debts” than ever before. It is out of control for advice agencies, which are seeing debt problems overtake almost all other types of query.
So the Child Poverty Action Group’s debt advice handbook, now in its seventh edition and in existence since 1993, has never been more essential. It is clear, concise, accurate and timely. Yet it probably won’t find its way on to the bookshelves in most social work offices, which is an enormous pity.
Many social work clients will be struggling with debt – fuel, rent, council tax, credit and store cards, court fines and so on – as well as debts to Revenue and Customs for overpaid tax credits or the Department for Work and Pensions for social fund loans. On top of that, there may even be the more physically threatening debts to loan sharks and other predators. Anyone who has been crushed by the task of juggling insufficient resources will know the overwhelming sense of despair and desperation that pervades your life in these circumstances.
But despite all this, social work staff will shy away from engaging with these problems and giving even basic assistance. If you thought it was hard going to get many social workers interested in giving welfare benefits advice, you should try getting them to address debt issues.
Yet armed with this excellent book, they could. And they should. To ignore debt is to ignore reality.
Gary Vaux is head of money advice at Hertfordshire Council and Community Care’s welfare benefits expert