Some help for households, but a “missed opportunity” to help people trapped in debt
National Debtline has today welcomed Autumn Statement measures that offer some help for household finances – but warned of a “missed opportunity” to introduce more targeted measures focused on the needs of those trapped in problem debt.
The free debt advice service has repeated its calls for a Help To Repay repayment-matching scheme to help the one in four people with energy debts (24%) who are currently unable to repay – a proposal now backed by 17 organisations.
The Autumn Statement comes one day before Ofgem’s Energy Price Cap announcement, which is widely expected to lead to a rise in energy bills at the start of the new year.
“The Chancellor is right to have listened to calls to unfreeze the Local Housing Allowance, at a time when millions of renters are struggling with high housing costs.
“And while January’s headline National Insurance cut will be dwarfed by the impact of frozen allowances, reductions in National Insurance contributions paid by people who are self-employed will be a significant help to this group, which is so often over-looked.
“Disappointingly, however, the Chancellor missed his opportunity to provide much-needed, more targeted help for people who are trapped in debt this winter as a result of the high cost of living.
“With energy costs set to increase again and energy debt at a record high, the absence of any further help with energy costs from the Autumn Statement is particularly stark. The government must urgently rectify that situation through a Help To Repay scheme to help the one in four people with energy debts who are currently unable to repay – and extend the Household Support Fund beyond April to continue this vital support at a local level.”
National Debtline provides free, independent debt advice on 0808 808 4000 and at www.nationaldebtline.org