ONE in two parishes now offers help to people struggling with
debts, a new survey from the Church Urban Fund (CUF) suggests.
Some 48 per cent of clergy questioned in an online poll in
October said that their church was providing either programmes to
get parishioners out of debt, or in-formal advice. In 2011, the
figure was 41 per cent.
Twenty-two per cent of churches now run debt advice or budgeting
courses, and a similar number support their local credit union,
either by encouraging parishioners to join, opening a church
account, or allowing a branch to use church premises.
Seventy-nine per cent of clergy questioned said that helping
people to manage their money wisely was an "important part of the
Church of England's mission".
The CUF also drew attention to warnings from the Government-run
Money Advice Service that the total spending on Christmas this year
will reach £26 billion - a £2-billion increase on last year's
figure. The average British adult will spend £530 during the
festive season, the
Money Advice Service's survey of 3000 people suggested.
The executive chairman of CUF, Canon Paul Hackwood, said: "At
Christmas, many families feel under enormous financial pressure to
create the perfect Christmas. This short-term pressure often leads
to long-term despair for the poorest in our society."