Lib Dem candidate Alan Bullion supports National Debtline schemes for Sevenoaks and Swanley
By Alan Bullion
Debt charity receives nearly 300 calls from people in Sevenoaks since 2013
Candidates standing to become the MP for Sevenoaks in May's General Election are facing calls to make promoting free debt advice a priority, after a debt charity revealed it has received nearly 300 calls for help from people with debt problems in the constituency since 2013.
A total of 283 calls for help from people in Sevenoaks were received by National Debtline, the free advice service run by charity the Money Advice Trust, during 2013 and 2014.
In addition, the charity's Business Debtline service, which advises the self-employed and other small business owners, received 24 calls from businesses in the constituency last year.
With research showing that only 17 percent of people with unmanageable debt in the UK seek advice1, the need for debt help in Sevenoaks is likely to be far higher than these figures suggest.
The Money Advice Trust says that higher awareness of free debt advice in and around Sevenoaks could "mean the difference between financial recovery and financial disaster" for thousands of people. After contacting National Debtline, 82 percent of people say they feel more in control and knowledgeable in managing their money.
MPs are often contacted by constituents about unmanageable debt, including problems with credit cards, personal loans, mortgage debts, payday loans, council tax arrears, rent arrears bailiffs and county court judgments (CCJs).
As well as signposting these constituents to seek advice from charity-run services such as National Debtline and Business Debtline, many MPs take a pro-active role in promoting debt advice charities in their communities.
Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said:
"Whoever is elected as Member of Parliament for Sevenoaks on 7th May needs to put promoting free debt advice in the area near the top of their to-do list after the General Election. While National Debtline has given nearly 300 advice sessions to people in Sevenoaks in the last two years, we know that potentially thousands more are suffering in silence.
"MPs can play a crucial role in the fight against problem debt - not only by directing people who come to them for help to the free advice they need, but also through raising awareness of services such as National Debtline in the local community.
"Our message to anyone in Sevenoaks who is struggling to cope with problem debt is simple: seek free advice from a debt charity such as National Debtline as soon as possible. The earlier you seek advice, the quicker and easier the problem will be to solve."
National Debtline offers free advice via 0808 808 4000 or www.nationaldebtline.org. Its sister service Business Debtline can be contacted via 0800 197 6026 or www.businessdebtline.org