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Tackling debt in Haringey

Our Credit Union is proud to be playing its part in the Haringey Strategy for Tackling Debt with Haringey Council, promoting saving and dealing with debt.

Haringey Council’s strategy to help residents tackle debt was launched earlier this year and aims to prevent people in the borough from falling into debt by supporting the most vulnerable residents in the community. Our Credit Union, which serves the people of Haringey, is one of the partners in the scheme.

Haringey Strategy for Tackling Debt aims to identify those residents with the most urgent need and unmanageable or ‘problem’ debt and provide them with debt management support. This follows a decade of austerity in government funding for local authorities, a lack of pay increases and a rise in the cost of living. As a result, residents are faced with huge financial pressures, and personal and household debt is rising.

The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated financial hardship across Haringey, with a sharp rise in claims for universal credit, an increase in unemployment, and more requests for assistance with emergency food and fuel.

Financial and debt issues are listed as one of the top reasons residents contact the council’s Connected Communities support service, with around 20% of calls logged over the last two years related to financial and debt support – with a further 20% about making a benefit claim.

Figures show that proportion of households in severe debt increased from 3.4% in November 2019 to 4.6% in November 2020. Data also shows that Haringey residents access less advice for debt problems face to face or by phone than in neighbouring boroughs.

The key steps the council is taking to tackle debt in Haringey, working with partners such as our Credit Union, are:

  • Providing emergency help through the local welfare assistance fund and scheme and stopping the use of bailiffs for collecting Council Tax from vulnerable residents and those on low incomes.
  • Recognising debt as a safeguarding issue and working with partners to raise awareness of the risks associated with problem debt and referring vulnerable people to help.
  • Introducing an ‘apply once’ process for a variety of benefits, support, and interventions to triage and understand individual causes of debt.
  • Raising awareness of the issue of problem debt and establishing a partnership board with the aim of developing new insights and services that increase social security, financial resilience and access to the right support.

Credit Union Chief Executive Martin Groombridge said: “We’re proud to be working with Haringey Council to help keep the most vulnerable in our communities out of debt. Years of cuts, low pay and the rise in the cost of living across London have had a huge financial impact on residents in Haringey and this has been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic. Working with the council, we are playing our part by promoting saving and helping people to deal with their debt.”

Find out more here about the financial support available to residents in Haringey, and click here to contact Haringey Council’s Financial Support Team. There is a lot of information on our website about the financial services offered by the Credit Union, or you can contact us for more information and advice.

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