Local MP calls for more CAB funding as true depth of Haringey's recession is revealed

As recent figures show that visits to the local Citizens Advice Bureaux have increased by nearly half in the past year, painting a stark picture of Haringey’s recession, Lynne Featherstone MP has today written to Haringey Council demanding further funding for the centre.

The bureaux, which specialises in free legal and money advice, has this year seen a 44% increase in visits from residents in Hornsey and Wood Green, compared to last year.

Most of the new enquiries were job-related with almost twice as many people asking about employment advice compared to last year. However, the knock-on effect unemployment has on other areas of concern, like debt and benefit advice can also seen, with a 60% increase in debt enquiries and a 30% increase in benefit enquiries in 2008/2009 compared to 2007/2008.

When visiting the Turnpike Lane centre last week, the Liberal Democrat MP also got CAB’s to tips on how to weather the recession:

Redundancy:
*If you have an employment contract, check it, as this may give you extra rights over and above your statutory rights to notice and a redundancy payment.
*If you believe that you have been unfairly selected for redundancy you can make a claim to the Employment Tribunal within 3 months.
*If your employer offers you a different job it must be suitable otherwise you may still be entitled to a redundancy payment.
*If your employer has gone bankrupt/insolvent you maybe able to claim your redundancy payment & other payments from the Insolvency Service’s Redundancy Payments Office.

Benefits:
*If you are working there are several benefits that you maybe entitled to such as Tax Credits, including help with childcare, as well as Housing and Council Tax benefit.
*If you lose your job there are several benefits that you maybe able to claim including Jobseekers Allowance (which may also cover housing costs such as mortgage interest and service charges) as well as Housing & Council Tax benefit for your rent and Council Tax. Contact your local Jobcentre Plus office or Haringey CAB for advice on what you maybe entitled to.
*Claim as soon as possible otherwise you may lose money as many benefits cannot be backdated.
*If your circumstances change and you are already claiming benefits inform the benefits office immediately to ensure you get your correct entitlement.

Debt:
*Check you are liable to pay.
*Check if you can increase your income – check your Tax code is correct as you maybe paying too much tax, check if you are entitled to any benefits.
*Inform your creditors that you are having problems as soon as possible and negotiate payments that you can afford.
*Prioritise your debts and payments – always make sure that you pay your priority debts first – these include mortgage or rent, Council Tax, utility bills. Only if you have any money left after paying these should you pay credit debts such as credit cards.

Haringey’s CAB can be contacted on 020 8374 1053 for benefit enquiries or 0844 826 9715 for other enquiries or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk.

Lynne Featherstone comments:

“Many local residents are clearly struggling with the recession and in need of help and advice, and the best way to be recession proof is to know your rights and entitlements. For that kind of help, the CAB is amazing.

“But it’s no good having a CAB that’s buckling under the weight of too many enquiries and not enough advisors. I hope that Haringey Council will wake up to the clear need for more funds so that local residents who need help and advice can turn to the bureaux for help during this difficult period.”

Councillor Robert Gorrie, leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats, adds:

“The increase in requests for help is striking and clearly shows the speed with which the recession is affecting Haringey’s residents.

“Haringey Council must look for ways to carry its share of this extra burden.”