Derry’s £14.1 million of debt

Derry is at least £14.1 million in debt, according to new figures released by the Citizens Advice Bureau.

The figures show an increase of over £5million in debt from last year, when the city was more than £9.1 million in the red.

Liam Doran, the debt supervisor at the Derry Citizens Advice Bureau, said the biggest concerns for local people at the moment are job losses, high unemployment rate, the inability to pay back debts and mortgage repayments.

He revealed there have been a huge rise in the number of house repossessions in the city and the number of people declaring themselves bankcrupt.

“There have been approximately 200 repossessions in the last twelve months and mortgage debt, which takes in shortfalls and arrears, has grown 1000% in the last four years.

The CAB is currently working on an appointment only basis, as they are inundated with requests for advice.

“On a weekly basis we would see around 60 people a week, but we also take a huge amount of queries over the phone, by email and at outreach clinics.”

Mr Doran added: “The figures are certainly shocking and the demand on our service is increasing.

“Debt is growing to an unprecedented level and we think it is only going to get worse.”

Jackie Gallagher, manager of the local citizens advice bureau, told the ‘Journal’ while the CAB will always be helping those on benefits, in the last number of years the clientele seeking advice has included estate agents, architects and those affected by the collapse of the building trade.

“We are busier than ever and this will continue to be the case until there are jobs in this city.

“This is looking unlikely at the moment, as there are more jobs leaving the city than coming into it.”

She revealed that on a monthly basis the CAB takes around 8,000 calls a month from people seeking advice and the service has seen 800 new clients in the last year.

“Low to middle income families are also becoming increasingly worried about the effect changes to benefits will have on them.

“The pain and suffering many of these people are going through is relentless as they try to make ends meet and are finding it hard to cope.”