The council’s Thurrock Fair Debt Summit, hosted at the Thurrock Adult Community College, Grays, was organised to explore the reasons people get into different types of debt, including household and credit card debt, and the potential consequences.
The summit forms part of a new Life’s Ladder initiative – a programme geared at helping ensure Thurrock residents get the help and support needed to overcome some of life’s challenges.
Cllr Shane Hebb, Deputy Leader of Thurrock Council and portfolio holder for Finance, 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 afternoon session brought together experts to discuss vulnerability, with a view to reviewing the council’s debt collection policy and how the wider support available in Thurrock could be improved, including better detection and enabling people in debt to reach out for help more easily.
Cllr Hebb 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.”