Headlines: April 14th, 2004

A new report and fact pack have been published to try to break the links between debt and social exclusion. The launch was linked with a call for action in every local area to help families on low incomes avoid debt and the poverty it can trap them in.The call came from the Minister for Regeneration, Jeff Rooker as the Social Exclusion Unit published “Action on Debt”, which highlights how decision-makers can act to help the Government in the drive to cut the crippling personal, economic and social costs of debt.

The publication follows an announcement in March that the Government would work with the financial services sector and with voluntary and community bodies to achieve a step change in the availability of free debt advice for those who need it. The pack calls on organisations to take early action to cut debt across seven sectors – communities, housing, health, business, children and families, the justice system and employment.

Jeff Rooker said debt was a significant factor in social exclusion and exacerbated health, employment and housing problems. He hoped the pack would help managers in local authorities, banks and businesses, the National Health Service, housing associations and a range of other groups to take action.

“These organisations are key to boosting local financial awareness, improving access to banks, post offices and financial support and making sure people can get good advice. And we are calling on those involved in collecting debts to adopt fair and realistic practices,” Lord Rooker added. “Action on Debt” is available from www.socialexclusionunit.gov.uk or by calling 0870 1226 236