THE Citizens' Advice Bureau is predicting "financial woe for South Worcestershire families", because of Government cuts to funding for a free debt advice service.

From early autumn, it will not be so easy for cash-strapped local families to get sound and free advice about debt problems, because funding to the CAB for this service has been axed by half.

Les Kinmond, the Chief Officer for South Worcestershire CAB, said the effects would be wide-ranging around the county.

He said: "The Money Advice Service (MAS), which is Government funded, provides the funding to Citizens Advice in London, which then distributes it to individual bureau. Councils are not involved in this funding stream.

"We were receiving £50,000 a year and this has been cut to £25,000, - just under 10% of our total income. "

The cuts will come into affect from October 1 this year, and could mean a reduction in CAB hours and services across Worcestershire .

Mr Kinmond said: "Malvern, Tenbury and Upton are equally affected, together with the Wychavon centres of Evesham, Droitwich, Ombersley and Pershore.

"This cut will not of itself cause closures, but taken together with other funding stream cutbacks, it may well force into reducing services by reducing the number of hours we are available for face to face advice."

He added: "The MAS does not realise the extent of deprivation in pockets of South Worcestershire and the difficulties in delivering advice services in rural areas. Our MPs, Harriett Baldwin and Sir Peter Luff, are being most helpful, but it is going to be hard to reverse the decision.

“South Worcestershire has no law centres, no solicitors specialising in delivering free Social Welfare Law, and no funded debt centres. We are the major port of call for vulnerable people. We handle over 40 debt cases per week, almost 30% of our total cases,and if interest rates rise, this problem will get worse, not better."

Julia Luff, the Parliamentary and Constituency Secretary for local MP Sir Peter Luff, said in a statement: "Peter does share the CAB’s concerns. The CAB headquarters are in Malvern, and therefore Harriett Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire, is taking the lead in this.

"She has written on behalf of herself, Peter and Mark Garnier MP, to the Financial Secretary, Nicky Morgan, asking her to look into this matter towards restoring the existing service for the local community."