Recession Impacts On Citizens Advice
13 May 2009
Issues and Enquiries up by 16%, and 1 million phone calls a year - Citizens Advice
Citizens Advice said today that its network of offices across Northern Ireland were under very heavy pressure of demand, as the recession continues to bite in Northern Ireland. CAB Chief Executive Derek Alcorn said that debt enquiries had risen by 25% in the year to March 2009. More affluent clients were seeking advice, and enquiries about business debt were growing. This increased demand was unsurprising against the 124% increase in redundancies in Northern Ireland in the year to March 2009, and the increased number of mortgage repossession cases in Northern Ireland. These had increased by 73% in the 3rd quarter of 2008 compared to the 3rd quarter of 2007.
“As the recession and unemployment impacts on families, Citizens Advice offices across Northern Ireland are taking the strain.
In addition to debt enquiries running at 1000 per week, we have also seen a 20% increase in enquiries about social security benefits and a general overall increase in enquiries of 16% over the past year.
With the predicted cuts to public expenditure and the contraction of public services which will follow, we expect this pressure of demand to grow for the foreseeable future. Many of the cases which we are seeing are of great complexity and there has been a knock on consequence in terms of the workload and stress on our frontline advisers”.
Mr Alcorn said that the pressures on the CAB network and its frontline advisers was immense.
“Independent monitoring statistics from British Telecom indicate that the CAB network is receiving over 1 million telephone calls per year. While this underlines the trusted position in which we are held by the public, the scale of this is industrial, and we are investing in a new telephone infrastructure to enable us to meet this. I hope that government will recognize the important role which the advice sector is playing at the moment and support us accordingly”.