Debt advice cost doesn’t add up

WHILE levels of debt continue to rise in line with the cost of living, Fife Council is considering reducing its debt advice organisations.

Advice and help is currently available to people in the region through Citizens Advice and Rights Fife (CARF) a voluntary organisation partly funded by the authority, as well as a money advice team from the Council.

It was reported in November that the number of people seeking advice from the Council’s Money Advice Unit had soared by 50 per cent in two years.

But councillors heard last week that a new way of delivering Fife’s money advice services is needed, which will help reduce costs and provide a better service to the public.

Michael Enston, executive director with Fife Council, explained: “At the moment a mixture of temporary, permanent and grant funding is keeping two services running but we know this funding will be reduced in coming years. And, while both services provide high quality advice and support, the review has highlighted some duplication between the organisations.

Options

“Councillors have decided we must design a new way of working to ensure the future of the service and we’ll work with the money advice teams to explore the various options available. We want to find the best solution, with the minimum disruption for customers and employees.”

Councillor Peter Grant, chairman of the policy, finance and asset management committee, said: “These services receive funding from several different sources and in the current economic climate we need to recognise some of this funding may not be available.

“This means we have to find ways to reduce overheads and increase efficiency while making best use of the expertise and experience of the money advice staff in Fife Council and CARF.

“This is a service that’s important for Fifers, especially in such tough economic times, and I’m confident we can find a way to make it better for the future.”