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Figures on debt problems staggering - McLaughlin

18 March, 2008

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has described as staggering figures released by the Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB) which show that nearly a third of the 5.7 million new problems dealt with by their staff in 2006-7 concerned debt.

Mitchel McLaughlin said:

"The figures released by the Citizens Advice Bureau shows what many working in the community and voluntary sector have been warning about for some time - that the number of people seeking debt counselling is rising at an alarming rate.

"The Citizens Advice Bureau has states that nearly a third of the 5.7 million problems dealt with by their staff in 2006-7 concerned debt counselling, making it the biggest single issue they faced.

"Rising costs in housing, food and fuel bills means many families are struggling to get by day to day .This underlines the reality that many people are surviving on inadequate incomes, have little or no savings and are therefore at high risk of running into money problems.

"There are very serious concerns about the number of people currently facing difficulties with their home mortgage repayments. Given the current economic climate there are very real fears that more and more people will fall into difficulties, particularly given the spiralling level of homelessness and current crisis in social housing.

"This is one of the by-products of the North for too long being marketed as a low wage economy. When there is a crisis in the world economy and prices continue to increase while wages stagnate people fall further into debt.

"Appropriate resources need to be made available to ensure that CAB and other Community Advice Centres are properly equipped to offer the standard of advice required. Unfortunately in the present climate of rising prices those facing financial difficulties, the current the cycle of home repossessions, longer housing waiting lists and therefore the need for more debt counselling services will continue to grow." ENDS

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