By Claire West

The future of the face-to-face debt advice programme has been secured today with £27 million of funding for the next year, the Government announced today.

The Government wants to ensure that individuals facing financial difficulty can get valuable impartial advice early, rather than wait until their problems become much more difficult to resolve.

The funding announced today will secure the future of the face-to-face debt advice programme for 2011/12 and will ensure debt advice can continue to be provided by the Citizens Advice Bureaux and other independent advice agencies across England and Wales.

Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable said:

“It’s vitally important that everyone has access to free debt advice, and I am pleased to announce that the Department for Business will provide the £27 million necessary to maintain the programme of face-to-face debt advice.

"While the Government has maintained funding for this programme, it provides only a small part of the revenue necessary to keep the Citizens Advice network fully functioning. I would like to take this opportunity to call on the other funding streams, such as from local authorities, to help provide whatever support they can to keep this excellent service going."

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mark Hoban said:

“I am very happy to be able to confirm the continuation of this important service. Effective debt advice can be the first step towards regaining control of your finances. It can also help people to make the most of their money in the future and avoid unsustainable debts. Anyone with money worries should seek advice as early as possible before their problems become harder to resolve.

“The Government intends to put the provision of debt advice onto a more sustainable footing. We want to see a flexible and cost effective response to debt problems, so that people can be helped in a way that works for them.”

The Coalition Agreement pledged that the Government would take action to help people to manage their own debts. It has been looking for new ways to encourage debtors to seek this support in its call for evidence on consumer credit and insolvency.

The Government has already asked the Consumer Financial Education Body (CFEB), soon to be known as the Money Advice Service, to deliver a free national financial advice service. Financial advice will be available face-to-face, over the phone, and online and aims to increase levels of financial literacy and empower consumers to take charge of their finances.

The service will include an annual financial healthcheck, which will provide people with a holistic overview of their finances and include a personalised action plan. The healthcheck will be available in the spring.