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TORIES AXE DEBT STAFF.

Byline: STEPHEN MARTIN

THE Government's free financial help service is axing nearly all its staff... as Britons face the toughest battle to make ends meet for more than 50 years.

The money advice service, the brainchild of Chancellor George Osborne, was launched in April and pledged free and unbiased assistance for people struggling to cope with rising prices, frozen salaries and widespread redundancies. Now, seven months on, the service is making around 100 of its 136 staff redundant.

The cuts come two weeks after Mr Osborne's deputy Mark Hoban said: "Debt advice is vital to help consumers in financial difficulty." Labour's Shadow Treasury Minister Chris Leslie said: "Making most of the staff redundant will mean thousands of people won't be able to get the help they need."

The service's pounds 44million budget is funded by a levy on the finance industry so the cutbacks won't even lead to savings for ordinary taxpayers. An MAS spokeswoman claimed services would be "enhanced" by the cuts because of increased online advice.

The MAS is also to increase its PR budget with the money saved. But an insider said: "What's the point of glossy advertising if you don't have any staff left?" COMMENT: Page 14

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Title Annotation:News; Exclusive
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 6, 2011
Words:205
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