Updated: Feb 5
Read our press release
This new year we issue an urgent call to support community-led money advice, to counter a surge in debt and poverty among Diverse Ethnic Community (BAME) and low income households.
Our Advice team supported 260 clients with debt, benefits and money guidance between April and November 2020, a 152% increase on the same period in 2019.
Clients of the Money A+E advice service are predominantly non-White British, from vulnerable groups and/or on low incomes.
The service supported clients to manage debts totalling £1,544,253 in April-November 2020, an increase of 77% on the same period in 2019.
We are now calling for funding to community-led money advice services, to support individuals to rebuild their financial health long-term.
The Money A+E Community Fund provided 46 crisis grants during the same period. The grants cover household costs such as food and utilities and reflect the growing number of people who are unable to pay for essentials.
Among those using our Advice service, 52% were out of work, nearly half (47%) had rent arrears and over a quarter (26%) had Council tax debts. Clients seeking support with debt owed an average of £10,295 to creditors.
We know that these figures represent the tip of the iceberg. Money A+E operates on a relatively small scale and it is common for those in financial difficulty to delay seeking help.
Office cleaner and single mum of three Lila* came to Money A+E when she lost working hours during the pandemic. Our team supported Lila to manage rent arrears and Council tax debts, and to access a grant of £350. Read Lila's story
Money A+E CEO Jerry During said:
‘These new figures show the true extent of the hardship experienced by Diverse Ethnic Communities and those on low incomes during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is not right that so many have been driven into problem debt, or have no choice but to rely on crisis grants to feed their families, stay warm or stop services being cut off.
‘Our communities have shown compassion and hard work in their response to these challenges. Money A+E’s staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to provide life-changing advice and support. We welcome government support including the job retention schemes, the Covid Winter Grant Scheme and the £20 uplift to Universal Credit.
‘Support for money advice must form another vital pillar of efforts to counter the Covid-19 economic crisis. Community-led advice, often provided by smaller agencies, is especially effective in reaching vulnerable individuals and supporting them to escape the cycle of debt and poverty long-term.’
Rt. Hon. Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham (Newham), said:
‘Many hard-working families in our community have been pushed over the brink in the pandemic – for example, because their work has been cut, and their immigration status means they can’t claim benefits. I applaud the work of Money A&E in supporting families with precarious finances, and I echo their call for funding for this vital work.’