Summit studies how borough debt victims can be helped

Cllr Shane Hebb, left, with experts and council staff at last week’s debt summit held at?Thurrock Adult Community College.

A LEADING Thurrock councillor who has shared his own experience of going into debt has praised an initiative by the borough council for trying to ease the burden for local residents who get into cash troubles.
Cllr Shane Hebb, the authority’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for finance, was speaking after a summit was held at the adult community colleague in Grays where young people were invited to recount their experiences of debt.
Following on from that experts and council staff reviewed the council’s debt collection policy and how wider support available in Thurrock could be improved, including better detection and enabling people in debt to reach out for help more easily.
Speaking after the event, run under the branding ‘Life’s Ladder’ yesterday (Wednesday (12 September), Cllr Hebb said: “As someone who once ended up in household debt years ago, this is something that is very dear to me.
“We wanted to bring as many experts and people together to share their own tales of woe and support us in creating an education package to help young people recognise the signs of getting into debt and understand the potential consequences, both now and later in life.
“I would particularly like to thank the remarkable young people who shared their stories of debt with us.
“We know getting into debt can change the way life goes and this event marked the start of our important new initiative – to make a difference and to help people in Thurrock climb Life’s Ladder.”
The ‘Life’s Ladder’ initiative is a programme geared at helping ensure Thurrock residents get the help and support needed to overcome some of life’s challenges.
Cllr Hebb says he is impressed by the aims of the initiative and added: ““I am delighted we were able to get colleagues from across education, benefits, welfare, health and the voluntary sector around the table to begin the conversation about how we can improve the support available for those who want to pay, but cannot.
“Clearly there is also a group who can pay but won’t, and we will continue to take strong action against those who seek to abuse the system.
“This will be the subject of another fair debt summit where we will be reviewing the way we work with those people to ensure they do pay.”