Debt Soars in Northern Ireland
24th October 2008
The number of people needing to access the Dealing with Debt money advice service at Citizens Advice has increased by nearly 40% in the 12 months to September 2008.
A year on year comparison of CAB statistics for the July- September quarter shows that the amount of debt dealt with in that period has more than doubled rising from £2.5 million in the third quarter of 2007 to £5.5m in the third quarter of 2008, an increase of £3m.
Mortgage arrears for the periods in question have increased to almost £500,000 from £11,500, over 4,000%. Catalogue debts, credit card debts and personal loan debts are all up by over 50% and business debts are up by 790%.
Figures from the service in September 2007 showed that 385 people sought assistance in the three months from July to September 2007.
In the same period (July - September) for 2008 that number has increased by over a third to 518.
Derek Alcorn, Chief Executive, stated
“A recently commissioned survey of our client records revealed that approximately 50% of Citizens Advice clients seeking debt advice come from the three most deprived deciles in Northern Ireland, and 50% of them are on means tested benefits. The end of cheap available credit is impacting on the most vulnerable in society who have in many cases been forced to use credit to pay for essentials. The picture is also not confined to the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland. Our client base is increasingly coming from more affluent areas and we are seeing high numbers of very distressing cases of mortgage repossessions and failed business. It is essential that the finance industry accepts their part in this credit crisis and gives their commitment to do all they can to help people stay in business and stay in their homes.”
The Dealing with Debt money advice service assists clients in financial difficulty. From April 2006 to March 2008 the service assisted close to 4,000 people deal with debts amounting to over £28 million.
Notes to Editors
- Citizens Advice is the largest advice charity in Northern Ireland working against poverty, meeting the information and advice needs of some 260,000 people per year. Money Advice queries are the fastest growing area of enquiry.
- Citizens Advice is currently managing a £1.2m contract from DETI for the provision of debt advice in Northern Ireland, and a contract from the Social Security Agency for benefit take up which is targeted on 25,000 people.