It seems that Northern Ireland is leading the way compared to other regions of the UK in terms of the amount of personal debt problems encountered by its citizens, according to a report issued by a national debt charity, the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (also known as the CCCS).
The CCCS looked at a number of measures and concluded that the London and N.Ireland were the top regions in the UK and Northern Ireland in vying for this unenviable and undesirable tag. The Consumer Credit Counselling Service dealt with more bankruptcy cases in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK, recommending bankruptcy to almost 13% of its clients. It also recommended IVAs (which are not available in the Republic of Ireland) to a further 8% of its clients.
Regarding disposable income, clients from N.Ireland had on average £55 per month less than they needed to cover the cost of their living expenses.. A spokesperson for the charity commented: ‘Although anyone, whatever their background, age and location, can struggle with debt, there are parts of the country where personal debt problems appear to be more intractable. Debt clusters areas such as London and Northern Ireland, need special help and attention in terms of preventing people from falling into unmanageable debt situations. This can be done by making people aware of the free debt advice and support that is available to them from both helplines and online’.
The charity also stated that people who are unable to meet their monthly outgoings are at falling further into debt and many people delay seeking help until the problem becomes very serious. The CCCS stated that overspending was only one of the causes of insolvency; they identified short time working, a family bereavement, marital breakdown, loss of employment, or serious illness as some of the other underlying issues, compounded by the effects of the recession and increases in the costs of living including the rising costs of government services.
A recent issue of Belfast Newspaper the Belfast Telegraph carried a list of 74 people against whom bankruptcy orders had been made in the previous week. The list of occupations was diverse and included restaurateur, publican, taxi proprietor, draper, plumber, haulier, builder, joiner, electrician, takeaway proprietor, subcontractor, accountant, fish and chip shop proprietor, refuse loader, retired civil servant, foreman, nurse, taxi driver, joiner, bus driver, lorry driver, production operator, student, cashier, innkeeper, plaster boarder, hairdresser, insurance adviser, dietician, quantity surveyor, contractor, florist as well as some unemployed and retired people and some whose occupations were unknown.
Further to this substantial numbers of people enter into Individual Voluntary Arrangements in Northern Ireland every week – over 1,000 in 2010 – so the total number of insolvent individuals in the province is soaring and it doesnt seem like there is any going to be any great change any time soon.