Tough year ahead for many households - but help is at hand

By Laura Maltby Friday 18 January 2013 Updated: 25/01 08:55

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Buy photos » Stratford CAB manager Sue Green. Picture by Jon Mulis 46.010.049.strat.jm1 (

FOR those struggling to make ends meet, last year was one of the toughest in a long time - and 2013 is expected to be just as difficult.

Stratford's Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) reported unprecedented demand for their services in 2012, and with more cuts and radical changes to welfare reforms being made by the government, bosses are concerned further tough times are ahead.

Sue Green, manager of Stratford CAB, said: “Already this year we are seeing an influx of clients who are facing repossession.

“As well as this, many people find time spent together over Christmas brings out differences and relationship problems and we have had a larger than usual number of enquiries about divorce.

“There is also a great deal of temptation in December for families to buy Christmas presents, not wanting their kids to be left out, and when credit card statements come in January people find themselves short of cash.”

In November, the Observer reported how an “affluent veneer was hiding real hardship in Stratford”, which prompted plans to set-up a foodbank in Stratford this year.

“A couple of years ago we would never have expected to need a foodbank in Stratford and yet there is a real need now – our area masks real difficulties for people who are less well-off and have to cope in a place with a high cost of living.”

And talking about 2013, she added: “We expect demand for our services to increase especially with the welfare benefits reforms coming through and we are already seeing clients coming in wanting to know what might happen to their finances.

“We will continue to see increasing numbers with problems that have a 'domino effect' – for example severe or sudden illness which tips someone's finances over the edge and leads to a need for debt advice, benefits advice and housing advice, the strees of which can have an effect on their relationships with others.

“The most important thing is it’s never too late to ask for help and by taking that step you are doing something positive to sort things out.”

To contact Stratford CAB visit or call 0844 855 2322.

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