Busy year in Northamptonhire for legal help charity

A legal advice and support service in Northamptonshire has seen an increase of 18% in numbers of people approaching them for help in the past year.

The Community Law Centre in Northampton said it had seen its busiest year since it was founded in 1983.

Across the county 16,609 people turned to the charity for help and advice.

Additional benefit claimed for residents came to £11,413,867 and people living in sheltered housing were helped to claim more than £1.3m extra.

Toni Southgate, from the Community Law Centre, said: "We have consistently identified large numbers of residents in sheltered housing who are missing out on benefits.

"This is particularly the case for many older people and people with disabilities.

"This money makes a big difference for people who can afford to heat their homes better and have more money for food and other necessities."

Help at court

During the year the service helped more than 4,500 people to manage £68,564.499 personal debt.

As the numbers of people faced with repossession of their homes rose duty workers represented 738 people at court and successfully kept the majority of people in their homes.

Debt and Housing Manager Steve Thomas said: "People facing repossession need to come to us for help as soon as possible.

"All too often people either leave it until the last minute to get help but a lot more can be done to resolve problems if they get help sooner.

"What is more alarming is the numbers of people who fail to turn up at the court for hearings which can often mean eviction.

"Don't get evicted - get advice is our message," he said.

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