Wakefield, a city in West Yorkshire, has become one of the first cities to offer financial support to those who need it the most in the midst of the financial downturn.

Wakefield Council is offering a limited number of loans of up to £15,000 interest free to those worst hit, who are struggling to meet their mortgage arrears and council tax bills.  Naturally, the loans are only available to those in the Wakefield area.

Councillors expect to run this Mortgage Assistance Scheme for three years and are also offering discounted council tax to some.  The loans are restricted to just two or three applicants each month.

The scheme actually launched in April, has had 64 applicants and awarded 11, with the average loan working out at just under £7,000.

Council leader Peter Box said: “The global economic situation is affecting all of us.  As a council, we want to do all we can to ease the impact on citizens and on local business by being as flexible as possible and by working with people to understand any problems they might have in completing transactions with us.  In some cases, the help we can offer may be limited, but we want to do as much as we can.  The moves are part of the council’s commitment to ease the burden on local people of the worldwide financial banking crisis and the credit crunch, which is expected to hit hard in the run-up to Christmas.”

In a report last week, a spokesperson for the Local Government Assocation (LGA) said:

“Local authorities are at the centre of helping people, businesses and other groups through tough economic times ahead.  When things go wrong, councils step in, both to help kick-start the economy when it hits rock bottom and to provide a safety net for people in need.  Wakefield council is offering people at risk of repossession interest free loans to make sure they can stay in their own homes; Lancashire County Council has identified over 500 people who weren’t claiming benefits to which they were entitled; Leeds council is offering debt advice and counselling for local families.”

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