New service launched to help those in debt

Jackie Gallagher, North West manager, Citizens Advice Bureau.

Jackie Gallagher, North West manager, Citizens Advice Bureau.

Almost a quarter of adults (23.8%) living in the Derry and Strabane District Council area are living in debt.

This is a staggering 7.7% more than the national average - and means most households are dealing with serious debt.

This is in line with figures from across Northern Ireland which show that 1 in 5 people in Northern Ireland are struggling with debt - worse than anywhere else in the UK.

The figures, which were released by Citizens Advice, come as it launches a new Debt Advice Service.

It aims to help the 26,000 people who are seeking debt help across the North.

The figures also show that disposable household incomes are £2,889 lower here than the UK average and despite more people in NI saving every month, 50% of people could not deal with an unexpected £300 bill.

The new Debt Advice service is a joint venture between Citizens Advice Northern Ireland and the Money Advice Service and will offer help for people across Northern Ireland who need help with their debt problems.

The service is available via phone, email and face to face appointments - and can be accessed through any of the 30 frontline Citizens Advice offices in Northern Ireland - with three based in the Derry and Strabane District Council area.

Citizens Advice North West Manager, Jackie Gallagher said, “Citizens Advice North West is here to help people find a way forward with their problems.

“We are delighted to be launching this new service with the support of the Money Advice Service.

“This service is here for everyone - we have designed a service available to people when they need it, how they need it. All our advice is totally free, impartial and confidential.

“Thousands of people have felt a weight lifted off their shoulders by getting debt help, and we can now help even more. Now is the time for people to take a first step towards a debt free future.”

Money Advice Service Northern Ireland Manager, Janine Maher added, “We are delighted to be supporting this initiative which will ensure that more people in Northern Ireland can get help with debt worries.

“Northern Ireland is one of the most vulnerable areas in the UK when it comes to levels of debt so it is vital that help is available for those that need it.

“We know that debt advice works but currently only one in five people with financial difficulties seek advice. We are calling on everyone with problem debt or money worries, no matter how large or small, to access free advice as soon as possible.”

Debt advice is available:

* by Freephone 0800 028 1881 Monday – Friday 8am to 6pm;

* face-to-face at Citizens Advice North West, – office locations available at www.citizensadvice.co.uk;

* by email debt.advice@citizensadvice.co.uk;

* at outreach locations on request;

The three offices in the North West are located at Embassy Building 3 Strand Road, Cityside, Spencer House, Waterside and Dock Street Strabane.