Debt warning to Corby families ahead of benefit changes

Adam Boud of the Corby branch of CAP, a debt counselling charity
Adam Boud of the Corby branch of CAP, a debt counselling charity

A charity is urging Corby people to learn vital budgeting skills if they are to stay out of debt after the next wave of benefit changes.

The shake-up of the benefits system began in the spring with a small pilot of the new Universal Credit payment which merges six working-age benefits into one.

As the scheme is rolled out across England, Scotland and Wales, from October this year, debt experts at Christians Against Poverty (CAP) are voicing concerns that some people could be drawn into greater hardship.

Adam Boud, from Corby CAP debt centre, based at the town’s Hope church, said: “We’re at the very start of the system being gradually introduced.

“When it’s fully implemented, Universal Credit will bring a lot of changes. It will be paid once a month, rather than fortnightly or weekly. Housing benefit won’t go directly to the landlord anymore, it will go into the claimant’s bank account and in trials elsewhere this has caused serious problems for some families.

“Our worry is that some people will be unused to seeing so much in their account and won’t be aware that the security of their home depends on them managing it well, a concern too for local landlords.

“Government ministers say most people will be slightly better off with Universal Credit and it’s just going to take some getting used to.

“Thankfully, the Government seems cautious about bringing in all the aspects of Universal Credit so this gives everyone the opportunity to overhaul their finances and get ready where they can.”

CAP, a charity which aims to reduce poverty in the UK caused by debt, offers free advice regardless of people’s age, gender, faith or background.

It also runs free sessions, The CAP Money Course, to help people learn how to save, budget and spend wisely.

Anyone who would like more information can visit www.capuk.org. For help with debt problems telephone 0800 328 0006.