EXCLUSIVE: Court desk experiment in Fenland saves five out of seven re-possessions

THE Court Desk pilot scheme to help local people facing eviction from their homes when they become overwhelmed by personal debt, has proved to be a huge success during August.. The pilot scheme, which was set up in July, was able to save five out of seven

THE Court Desk pilot scheme to help local people facing eviction from their homes when they become overwhelmed by personal debt, has proved to be a huge success during August..

The pilot scheme, which was set up in July, was able to save five out of seven Fenland families from being evicted from their homes during August.

Fenland District Council and the Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB) tapped into Government funding to launch the Court Desk concept, which is designed to save people in severe financial difficulty from eviction for non-payment of their mortgages.

The economic noose continues to tighten around cash-strapped mortgage holders as the so-called credit crunch creates economic instability. However, in Fenland there is now a glimmer of hope for those who would have normally faced almost certain eviction.


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During August there were 80 cases listed for eviction and 51 defendants attended. CAB experts provided support for 19 families, seven of them from Fenland. Five of the seven householders in Fenland were helped to successfully stave off eviction.

The council took the view that the economic downturn could lead to a significant increase in evictions and so bid for Government funding to launch a national pilot scheme called Court Desk, where CAB debt experts can help people on the threshold of eviction in court.

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The pilot scheme funding is paying for CAB experts to be available at Peterborough County Court eviction sessions on Mondays, providing an advocacy service and to help people prioritise and consolidate their debts in an effort to avoid eviction at the 11th hour.

However, both the council and the CAB are very keen to urge people who are facing problems to contact the CAB experts at the earliest opportunity, rather than at the 11th hour, when it may already be too late to save the situation.

Linda Hutchinson, of Fenland CAB manager, said: "The funding secured by Fenland District Council has enabled us to help people as they are about to go into court to face an eviction order. By being on hand at this critical last stage in the eviction process, we have been able to save some, not necessarily all, from being put out of their homes."

Cllr Kit Owen, Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Communities, said: "The Court Desk concept has proved to be very successful. It was with considerable forethought that the council decided to team up with the CAB to minimise the impact of the economic downturn on that sector of the community that is least able to weather the storm.

"However, while this scheme may offer people a last-minute lifeline, it would be better if people were to contact the CAB at a much earlier stage to increase their chances of avoid

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