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May 23 2011

Feeling the pinch? Harrow can help

Are you struggling with your finances or feeling overwhelmed by mounting debts? Or are you desperate to find a new job or somewhere to live but do not know where to turn?

Harrow Council has launched a new online guide at www.harrow.gov.uk/help showing the wealth of support on offer to residents and businesses in the borough.

From help claiming benefits or spreading your council tax payments, to advice on job-hunting, housing issues, money and debt, the guide will point you in the right direction for help from the Council and its partners. It also includes tips on free or affordable entertainment, sport and leisure, and advice for businesses.

In March, the Council’s call centre Access Harrow experienced a 54% increase in the number of calls about problems with council tax payments compared to the same month last year.

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) continues to report rising enquiries on benefits, debt, redundancy and relationship breakdowns. Last year client numbers increased from 6,500 to 11,500.

In the coming weeks the Council will work with its partners to raise awareness of the wide range of help available for families, individuals and businesses in Harrow.

Keith Ferry, portfolio holder for planning and economic development on Harrow Council, said:

“Harrow Council is here to help. We know many families and individuals are struggling at present and working with partners, we have a range of support and services on offer to support those most in need.  No-one should struggle on their own or be left in the dark about how national changes in housing policy or welfare will affect them. Contact us and ask how we can help with benefits, advice on debt, spreading rent or council tax payments, or all sorts of other issues.  The Council offers a number of free services from parks and open spaces to libraries, museums and children’s centres, as well as affordable services in leisure centres and cultural venues.”

“We welcome the launch of the new online guide. In these difficult times, it is especially important that people have easy access to information about how to get help and support locally.” – Jill Harrison, Chief Executive at CAB Harrow

Kathryn Ord, from the Housing Benefit Team gives her advice to residents feeling the pinch:

“We get calls from so many types of residents, from people who have recently lost their jobs to the recently retired who suffer a sudden drop in income. The most important piece of advice I can give is to get help straightaway. We can give you immediate support through council tax or housing benefit, or help you meet shortfalls in your rent. You can also see if you are eligible for help using the benefits calculator on our website or fill in a self-assessment form. Ring our call centre, Access Harrow, where staff are here to help or visit the new online guide to find all sorts of support and advice in the local area.”

For advice on housing benefit and Council Tax, call 020 8901 2610.

 

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