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By Dan Santy Thursday 10 January 2013 Updated: 05/02 08:18
FOR those struggling to make ends meet last year was one of the toughest in a long time - and 2013 is expected
to be just as difficult.
Volunteer groups which help vulnerable people in Rugby reported unprecendented demand for their services in 2012.
And with more cuts and radical changes to welfare reforms being made by the Government, Rugby's Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and Foodbank are both concerned about tough times to come.
In December, the Observer reported how Rugby's Foodbank had predicted unprecedented demand from those unable to afford the costs of eating properly over the festive season. Last year it typically saw around 150 people a month, but in December 289 needed its services, with 191 of those - including 89 children - in the week before Christmas.
Diana Mansell, of Rugby Foodbank, said: "I think agencies across the town were acutely concerned about quite a number of people being without food over the Christmas period and so we saw many more referrals to the foodbank.
"We also gave out more food than normal over this period because of the amazing generosity of the public – schools, offices, churches and individuals gave more than at any other time, and for this we are very grateful.
"It is difficult to predict how the coming months will fair, but for most families post-Christmas is a difficult time financially and with the coming welfare changes this could add pressure to many.
"I think it is likely our numbers will continue to rise but by how much is impossible to predict. However the foodbank is well stocked and ready to meet the needs of those who come to us for help."
David Gooding, director of Rugby CAB, echoed these views and said he expected this year to be at least as difficult as the last.
One of the reasons for his concerns was Government changes to the welfare system, which include a shake-up of council tax benefits this year.
"There was no let up last year in terms of people coming to us, and it's going to be another really tough year for many people," he said.
"With all the welfare reforms due this year, they are going to really impact on people on low incomes, but I think some don't yet realise this.
"It's too early to say at the moment how many people will come to us for help with Christmas debts, but at any rate debt is always a big issue for us and even more so now.
"Around Christmas people tend to think they'll put their financial problems behind them until the New Year. Then when the kids go back to school and credit card bills start arriving, it catches up with them."
Visit www.cabrugby.org.uk or http://rugby.foodbank.org.uk for more information.
David Gooding, district manager of Rugby Citizens Advice Bureau, has warned 2013 will be another tough year. 20.08.103.jm1
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