An anti-poverty charity in Bradford has a three-month waiting list of people desperate for debt advice, it emerged last night.
Counselling charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) said all its advice centres in the city and in neighbouring Leeds were full because demand for help was so high - especially after the recent welfare cuts and changes.
"We are always busy and always will be until we can open more centres but we have definitely seen a rise in the number of calls for help, especially since the welfare reforms," said a spokesman.
CAP has 260 centres nationally with its headquarters in Bradford. Last year’s average annual income for its clients aged 40-64 was £13,000 yet average debts were almost £14,000.
The spokesman said: "One Monday in April we actually saw 70 per cent more calls than the corresponding Monday the previous year. The people who call us are regularly unable to feed their children, are worried about losing their homes and have been hanging on by their fingertips for a long time.”
CAP was not surprised to hear housing and homelessness charity Shelter is reporting a 76 per cent rise in people in Yorkshire and Humber calling its helpline because they are struggling to stay in their homes.
Shelter today launched an appeal calling for urgent support of its advice helpline. Last year the helpline spoke to more than 600 people in the region struggling to pay their rent or mortgage, or going into debt because of their housing costs.
The charity is warning with so many already living on a financial knife-edge, a job loss or serious illness can be all it takes to tip someone into a spiral that ends in homelessness.
Over the last year, the helpline’s advisers heard from 124,000 people across the country desperately in need of support but nearly 54,000 calls went unanswered as the charity struggled to keep up with growing demand.
The CAP spokesman said: "We're not surprised their number of calls to Shelter have increased, we signpost a lot of people onto them who call us with housing issues."
Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb, said: “Every 11 minutes, a family in Britain loses their home. With more and more people having to stretch their finances to breaking point in a bid to makes ends meet, it’s not hard to see why. As more people come to us desperate for support, sadly our helpline is also being stretched to its limits.
“Our advisers can be the difference between a family keeping their home or losing it, which is why we urgently need more support to make sure that no call for help goes unanswered.”
The charity is urging supporters to donate to their helpline by visiting shelter.org.uk.