Advice NI is warning that, as the furlough scheme comes to an end, many households across Northern Ireland will be left increasingly vulnerable to financial pressure. The charity, which dealt with £1.4 million of debt in July 2021 alone, is encouraging anybody affected by a loss of income to seek advice, particularly given the impact that dealing with financial stress and debt can have on mental wellbeing.
The end of the furlough scheme will place many of the 44,000 NI workers at risk of redundancy and unemployment. Sinead Campbell, Head of Money, Debt & Quality, Advice NI, warns that this potential loss of income, compounded by the proposed Universal Credit cut and a soaring cost of living and energy prices, will place many households under severe financial and emotional stress.
Sinead said: “As furlough ends, the pressure is just beginning for many households across Northern Ireland. A potential loss of income could be compounded by the Universal Credit cut in some instances, along with soaring utilities bills and rising inflation. Some households will feel pressure to accrue debt in response to this mounting financial stress as they try to pay their bills and cover household costs.
“Our emotions and personal finances are often intrinsically linked, and this is especially true where debt is concerned. Debt problems are commonly associated with anxiety and depression. Anyone dealing with debt should know that they are not alone.
“It is normal to feel nervous, embarrassed or overwhelmed when discussing your debts but tackling the issue and taking action sooner rather than later could positively help your financial situation and possibly improve your mental wellbeing too. If you struggling to deal with debt or increased financial pressure our debt advisers are non-judgmental and are here to help. Our services are free and entirely confidential”
In July 2021 alone, Advice NI dealt with 259 cases in Northern Ireland involving debt issues worth £1.4 million. The top three debts were credit cards, personal loans and mortgage shortfalls.
Sinead continues: “Some of the most common forms of debt that our clients have encountered this year have been credit cards, personal loans and mortgage shortfalls. This tells us that households across Northern Ireland have been struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic, perhaps due to a shortfall in income.
“You can contact Advice NI for free and confidential debt advice by calling our Freephone helpline on 0800 915 4604 to speak directly to an adviser between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. You can also browse our website for full details of our service including contact details and locations of advisers in your area, https://www.adviceni.net/money-debt/debt/local-debt-advice.
Advice NI has 69 members and more than 300 advisers across Northern Ireland, providing free advice. Anyone can access Advice NI’s money and debt advice now for free and in confidence on 0800 915 4604 or by emailing [email protected].