The capital’s first ever cost of living advice bus will be touring London from today, offering free help and support to Londoners struggling to make ends meet and facing mounting debt.
Funded by the Mayor Sadiq Khan, the mobile advice service is being delivered by Debt Free Advice, a partnership of 16 charities that provides expert free advice to Londoners with problem debt.
Recent City Hall polling shows that nearly a third (33 per cent) of Londoners who say they are struggling financially are using more credit or are going into more debt to manage the spiralling costs of living, and a quarter (25 per cent) are borrowing money from family or friends. The polling also revealed that more than half of those earning under £40,000 think they will struggle to pay their bills this winter, with a quarter saying they don’t think they will turn their heating on at all.
Kicking off on 23 November in Trafalgar Square, the Debt Free Advice bus will tour the capital for three months, offering Londoners free and convenient debt advice and benefits entitlement advice, and signposting them to further support available through the Mayor’s Cost of Living hub.
The Debt Free Advice bus will be based in accessible public locations, such as supermarkets, town halls and public library car parks, and will offer a range of activities, including webinars, in-person consultations and drop-in money sessions.
Londoners can also access Debt Free Advice’s services via the telphone helpline which is open 8am-8pm 7 days a week, via video call, WhatsApp or live web chat, guaranteeing access to support no matter their personal circumstances.
This is just one of the ways the Mayor is supporting Londoners through the cost of living crisis. Sadiq also announced today that his new energy advice service, Energy Advice London is now live. This service, funded by the GLA and run by the Energy Saving Trust offers Londoners advice on how to manage their energy bills in the longer term, through making their homes more energy efficient. Londoners can get in touch using the website, email or ring the dedicated phone line which is open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.
Like the Cost of Living Hub, Energy Advice London will be available to all Londoners but with an energy focus. It will complement the support that the Mayor already offers to vulnerable and low income Londoners through the Warmer Homes Advice Service and the Warmer Homes scheme.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The cost of living crisis is hitting Londoners hard and, as Christmas approaches bringing more financial strain, many Londoners will be worrying how they will make ends meet over the coming months.
“No-one should have to face these difficulties on their own. I’m determined to build a better London for everyone, and I want every Londoner to know that free, expert advice is available in their local area, through the new Debt Free advice bus or over the phone.”
Matt Dronfield, Managing Director of Debt Free Advice, said: “Winter is setting in, and we already see many of our customers having to choose between heating and eating. Over 42% of our customers have a utility bill problem debt. The cost of living crisis has made it difficult for people to keep up with their bills and outgoings.
“Even after we’re extending our service hours to 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm, we still are not accessible to everyone. As such, we are going on the road with our advice bus to help as many people as possible with their money worries in places convenient for them.”