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Anti-poverty project sees debts reduce for hard-up families in Tayside


Project helps families deal with finance and debt

A leading children's charity has reported that an innovative anti-poverty initiative has enjoyed “remarkable success.”

Coinciding with Debt Awareness Week, Aberlour said its Family Financial Wellbeing Tayside Pilot has been “transformative.”

Funded by the Robertson Trust, the Corra Foundation, and Aberlour itself, the three-year pilot worked closely with families grappling with challenges such as poverty, homelessness and mental health issues.

Working with three Tayside local authorities, the initiative undertook a series of innovative interventions, including the payment of involuntary public debts such as council taxes or rent arrears, enabling families to afford essential expenses such as food and clothing as well as Christmas gifts and specialised sensory toys for children with disabilities.

Testimonials from families supported by the project underscore its impact on their lives: "We had a Christmas! We would not have been able to afford anything at all this year, which was scary and very upsetting." Another shared, "It has given us hope; now there is light at the end of the tunnel. I genuinely believe that now. I didn’t before at all."

Crucially, families emphasised how the support received through the pilot programme had helped to keep them together, averting the looming threat of separation. One family member explained: "It has removed a huge burden. We may have had to consider going on the run to stay as a family. I’m serious."

The Aberlour Family Financial Wellbeing Tayside Pilot identified systemic shortcomings in debt collection practices, particularly the lack of coordination among public debt collectors.

This often resulted in simultaneous deductions from wages and benefits by multiple public agencies, exacerbating financial hardship for disadvantaged families.

Highlighting the urgency of addressing this issue, Aberlour's CEO, SallyAnn Kelly OBE, emphasised: "We cannot have a system that prioritises debt repayment over ensuring families can feed and clothe their children. The state must serve as a safety net, not a financial trap.

“We need to see comprehensive reform of debt collection practices by public bodies and governments must take proactive measures to address the escalating debt crisis faced by disadvantaged families.”

“The Aberlour Family Financial Wellbeing Pilot stands as a model that can be implemented nationwide as part of a concerted effort to alleviate the burden of debt on disadvantaged households and help tackle child poverty.”



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