A debt advice service has been launched as numbers resorting to unscrupulous lenders and getting provisions from Sutton's Foodbank surge.
The advice service, which is run by Sutton Citizens' Advice Bureau (CAB) and has been part-funded by the council, has been set up to give advice on debt, benefits, employment and other issues after startling statistics emerged showing severe deprivation in areas of Sutton.
Sutton Foodbank volunteers
The number of children using Sutton's Foodbank shot up by 89 per cent last year while the total number of clients went from 538 the previous year to 885 last year and a third of them are under 18-years-old.
More than a quarter of the calls Sutton Council receives are now about benefits, compared to just one in five in 2011 and more and more people are contacting the council over problems with pay day lenders and illegal loans.
The new helpline will work with Sutton Foodbank, the council and the Croydon Merton and Sutton (CMS) Credit Union to make sure people are able to make safe choices if they find themselves in financial difficulty and have the best resources to get out of difficulties.
Steve Triner, chief executive of Sutton CAB, said: "We know people find debt problems very stressful. In fact research has shown that debt can be both a cause and a consequence of mental health problems.
"We have therefore taken steps to enable people needing debt advice to get access to our debt advice team as quickly and as easily as possible."
Councillor Jayne McCoy added: "It is clear that some of our residents are struggling to make ends meet. We believe in a fair borough that supports people through tough times and that is why we are providing services such as the new debt line."
The CMS Credit Union is a savings and loans co-operative run for and by its members on a not-for-profit basis. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, studies and/or volunteers in the London Boroughs of Croydon, Merton or Sutton.
To contact the new line, call Sutton CAB on 020 8405 3552.