Debtline gains extra funding

National Debtline, the independent telephone helpline that has recently been overwhelmed by the number of debt inquiries, has secured funding to extend its service.

'Last year we took 12,000 calls. We have been operating with just two people and a heavily overused answering machine,' says Simon Johnson, manager of Money Advice Services at Birmingham Settlement, where the line is based.

'We know that some people have tried for weeks before getting through to an adviser.'

Additional funding of pounds 400,000 provided by the Money Advice Trust, National Westminster Bank and Birmingham Midshires Building Society is being used to triple the number of advisers employed to six and invest in new telephone and computer equipment.

National Debtline (021-359 8501) is staffed on Mondays and Thursdays from 10am-4pm and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 2pm-7pm. There is also a 24-hour answering machine service.