More help for those struggling with debt
8 October 2012
Our vital service that helps people struggling with debt and in danger of repossession, eviction and homelessness across Tayside, Central Scotland and the Scottish Borders has won another 30 months’ funding from the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB).
In all, £755,380 has been committed to our Housing Law and Debt Advice Project so it can extend its current service, which was launched in 2009.
The existing housing law and debt advice services are being boosted by the addition of two lay reps to give clients legal support and representation in court. Currently there are only a handful of lay reps in the whole of Scotland. The service will cover seven courts in the Tayside and Central areas and four courts in the Borders.
The funding will be used to provide money and debt advice in all three areas plus solicitor support in Tayside and Central Scotland.
Being able to offer two lay reps is also a huge boost to the service and will dramatically increase our capacity and capability to support and represent our clients in court.
Eleanor Hamilton, Principal Solicitor at Shelter Scotland
The Project’s money and debt advisers help clients negotiate with lenders to make payment plans and its lawyers provide legal representation and advice on repossession and eviction. The advisers also help families and individuals to budget and maximise their incomes.
In the last three years the project has helped almost 700 families and individuals to keep their home and/or get their finances in order. With each case of homelessness costing at least £5,000, the potential saving to local authorities and, ultimately tax payers, is at least £3.5million.
Eleanor Hamilton, Principal Solicitor at Shelter Scotland says:
“This is great news for people in Tayside, Central and the Borders who are in danger of losing their home through repossession or eviction or in desperate need of money and debt advice.
“We thank the Scottish Legal Aid Board for funding this service which has proved very successful over the last two years – especially as the effects of recession and welfare benefit reforms have started to hit home.”
Eleanor Hamilton added:
“Being able to offer two lay reps is also a huge boost to the service and will dramatically increase our capacity and capability to support and represent our clients in court. There is a shortage of lay reps across Scotland and so this is great news for people in Tayside, Central and the Scottish Borders. Where people in the past may have had to appear in court without representation, there will now be more chance of getting the vital support and representation they need.”
The lay reps are to be approved under the Home Owner & Debtor Protection Act 2010. They are not solicitors but work to approved government standards and are overseen by the Principal Solicitor.
Lindsay Montgomery, CBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Legal Aid Board, said:
“We are delighted that Shelter Scotland’s service has received backing as part of our grant funding programme supported by the Scottish Government and the Money Advice Service (MAS).
“It will enable them to continue the excellent work that they have been doing providing money and debt advice with solicitor support in Tayside and Central and a new lay representation project in the Scottish Borders, which will provide a much needed service to these local communities.”