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More Specialist Debt Advisors needed in current economic climate

18 February, 2009


Sinn Fein MLA and Vice Chair of the Committee for Enterprise Trade & Investment has called for the provision of more Specialist Debt Advisors to help people overcome the financial difficulties they find themselves in.

Ms McCann said,

"The current economic recession is resulting in an even greater number of people finding themselves in debt.

"The Housing Rights service recently said that there is a 300 per cent increase in demand for their specialist debt service.

"As unemployment rises and people find themselves getting into difficulties with mortgage repayments more and more people face the threat of their homes being repossessed.

"In a written reply to a question to the Minister for Enterprise Trade & Investment, Arlene Foster, she said her Department funds only two specialist debt advisors for my constituency of West Belfast, with other constituencies having even less.

"Given that West Belfast is an area of severe economic and social disadvantage two advisors of this type is wholly inadequate.

"Debt and the worry of debt has serious consequences for a persons physical and mental health and effects the whole family.

"There needs to be many more specialist debt advisors based in the local communities who are easily accessible to the people who need their services the most. Funding should also be made available for organisations who are in a position to offer specialist debt advice training to their advice workers.

"This is not something that can wait for reports, recommendations or studies into to assess the impact. This service is needed now and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment needs to act urgently to cope with the current demand."

Note to editor:

Ms McCann's Question read:

To ask the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment how many Specialist Debt Advisors her department funds in each parliamentary year.

The Ministers reply was:

My Department is funding the provision of a free face to face debt advice service with advisers based in 11 parliamentary constituencies.

Name of Parliamentary Constituency

Number of Advisers

Belfast East

1

Belfast South

2

Belfast West

2

East Londonderry

1

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

1

Foyle

3

Mid Ulster

1

Newry and Armagh

1

South Antrim

1

Upper Bann

1

West Tyrone

1

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