Derry is one of the top debt hotspots in the UK , new research has revealed.
The Derry and Strabane Council area is placed fifth in a chart ranking the most over-indebted local authorities in Britain and NI.
According to the Money Advice Service (MAS), 23.8% of people in Derry and Strabane have problem debt.
Topping the list is Sandwell in the West Midlands where 24.7% of people are identified as being ‘over-indebted’.
Not far behind, in second, third and fourth spots respectively are Welsh districts Blaenau Gwent,(24.3%) and Merthyr Tydfil (24.1%) and Newham in London (23.8%).
It is estimated that 8.2 million adults across the UK, or 16.1% of the population, suffer with financial worries - with younger adults, larger families and single parents particularly at risk.
In Northern Ireland, as a whole, 21% of people are over-indebted - that’s a few percentage points behind the figure for Derry-Strabane.
On the other side of the coin, the south east of England and Scotland have the lowest proportion of people with problem debt.
The research also reveals that having a child raises your likelihood of debt problems by more than 50 per cent, while, if you rent your property rather than own it, you are twice as likely to be over-indebted.
In the MAS study, people are defined as over-indebted if they have either fallen behind with their bills in at least three of the last six months or feel that their debts are a heavy burden.
The findings also reveal that young adults aged 25-34 are the age group most likely to be living with debt.
Among this age group, one in four live with debt problems (2.1 million) - the highest likelihood of all the age bands. The research shows that the likelihood of debt problems peaks at this age and doesn’t begin to fall significantly until the 55-64 age band.
Caroline Siarkiewicz, head of debt advice with MAS, says the research is ground-breaking and reveals the most up-to-date debt information.
“We are working with our delivery partners to ensure that debt advice is easy to access across the UK, especially in more vulnerable areas such as Wales and Northern Ireland,” she said. “But for this really have the greatest impact, we need to make sure those who need support are aware that this help is available.
“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... to access free advice as soon as possible.”