BARNSLEY'S debt crisis is mounting after it emerged almost 50 new debt help queries are logged every day at the Citizen's Advice Bureau.

Pat Heath, chief executive of Barnsley CAB, said 12,000 queries related to debt were logged in the last year, and now they were averaging 50 calls a day. Last year, the bureau dealt with over £15 million of debt in Barnsley alone.

He said: "Debt problems are a big thing in Barnsley - it's the single biggest item of work we get coming in. We helped manage £15 million of debt last year. It is a big amount and it just goes to show the level of problem there is now. We have got people in dire straits and we are getting people in more desperate situations.

"We are not here to judge, we are here to try to help them sort it out when it gets bad."

Barnsley Citizen's Advice Bureau has 35 volunteers working alongside trained debt advisors, offering advice on phone lines and even in community drop in days. The debts that they help with range from rent to payday loans.

Pat added: "We get a mix of things coming through but very often people will come to us at desperation stage in the process - when they are being evicted or something like that.

"Some of the biggest issues we've had is unsecured loans. People have often gor a view that the only people that come here are people that are poor, unemployed or living on council estated but we deal with the entire community from a range of backgrounds.

"We are starting to see more people who previously had managed their money very well having problems with debt, and unsecured loans. They might have got a loan for a car but then had a change in circumstance  like reduced hours or lost their job and for the first time in their lives they are finding themselves in a position where they are struggling to pay things back and are not able to support the debt that they have got."

Anyone who needs advice can call the Barnsley Citizen's Advice Line on 08444111444 or go to

* Pictures show volunteers at work and Pat Heath. *