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Cost of living referrals at record highs, charities say..

Referrals for help with the rising cost of living are already at record levels ahead of winter, charities have said.

In Dorset, groups like Dorchester Poverty Action (DPA) reported a 47% increase in calls in the last year, while the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) saw a rise of 51%.

Fuel costs, debt and the threat of evictions were common reasons for the calls.

Dorset Council said people could find additional help on its website.

A senior CAB worker said in 30 years she had never seen the situation so bad - with those on low incomes and with poor health and disabilities generally suffering the most.

The Dorset branch's executive manager Caroline Buxton said: "It's got to the stage that we are not doing money management anymore - we are doing destitution management.

"I haven't seen people so close to the edge as in the last couple of years - some are literally hanging on by their fingertips."

At the annual open meeting of Dorchester Poverty Action Group, she described how the unprecedented demand had left paid staff and volunteers struggling, with requests for energy advice alone rising by 78% over the course of a year.

Many came with multiple problems, which meant CAB staff dealt with over 28,400 separate issues of concern.

Heating costs, finding the money for school uniforms, and working out how to be able to afford to eat all featured among the emergency requests for help.

Councillor Laura Beddow, who is responsible for communities at Dorset Council, called the situation "disgraceful" but said the authority was doing all it could.

"If you're struggling with council tax, for example, we would always encourage people to reach out and have an early conversation with us," she said.

Source : Here

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