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Debt Crisis in Shrewsbury?

The Shrewsbury Chronicle recently reported that Shrewsbury is on the brink of a debt crisis. 

Numerous debt agencies are already working to maximum capacity and one has seen a 100% rise in calls since January.  It was also reported from the national debt advice charity, Consumer Credit Service, that in 2010 levels of personal debt in Shrewsbury were 14% higher than the national average.  It is thought that part of the problem is due to the high unemployment in the West Midlands which is now having a knock-on effect across the county.

The availability of free legal aid for debt advice is also becoming a major problem.  There have been recent changes to how legal aid can be obtained for work such as debts,  housing and welfare benefit problems, and as a result of the changes there are now only a few agencies in Shropshire that can offer such legal aid.  This is also set to deteriorate even further over the next few years as the Government have published further likely changes to legal aid.   For people trying to seek help for their debts if the changes are adopted it will mean in future that unless they are at an immediate risk of losing their home, legal aid will no longer be available.     As most advice agencies rely upon funding from different sources to be able to offer free debt advice, often including legal aid,  pressure on funding and legal aid cuts is likely to lead to more agencies having to charge for debt advice.