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Page last updated at 18:38 GMT, Friday, 11 February 2011

What now for free debt advice?

spreadsheet and pen
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 12 February 2011 at 1204 GMT on Radio 4 and Online

In this week's programme, Paul Lewis interviews the minister responsible for the funding of high-street debt advice.

Hundreds of specialist debt advisers facing redundancy have won a reprieve after the government found £27m to continue the service for a year.

For the past five years, the £27m-a-year Financial Inclusion Fund has been paying for about 500 specialists in England and Wales to give free advice.

Last month, the government said it would axe the fund, and advisers stopped taking new cases.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban, speaks to Paul Lewis, in his first broadcast interview about the announcement.

And Paul asks Jay Lowe, debt advice manager at Stoke-on-Trent's Citizens Advice Bureau, how she reacts to the news.

You can also listen to this weeks edition of The Report ,which has been investigating what the Office of Fair Trading calls the problem of 'lookalike websites'.

The programme found that if you look on the internet for organisations which offer free advice, debt management companies which charge for their service often come at the top of the list of search results.

You can also read about the issue here: Warning on debt website confusion

Related links:

Banks make slow progress with faster payments

Listeners say they are continuing to lose money because it still takes days to make online or phone transfers between bank accounts.

The "faster payments system" agreed by the banks in May 2008 held out the promise of same day transfers but, almost three years on, it's still not happening for some bank customers.

Bob Howard investigates.

Related links:

Justifying fund fees

As the Isa season approaches, how does the investment industry justify the fees fund managers charge?

Mark Meldon of independent financial advisers, R C Gray, tells Money Box he believes charges are too high, while Richard Saunders, chief executive of the Investment Management Association, argues they are reasonable and well-worth paying.

Super Complaint

Which? tells us why it is asking the Office of Fair Trading to investigate the hidden surcharges on payments by credit or debit card.

James Daley from Which? speaks to the programme.

Related links:

BBC Radio 4's Money Box is broadcast on Saturday at 1204 GMT and repeated on Sunday at 2102 GMT.

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