Levels of bankruptcy and the use of individual voluntary arrangements with creditors are higher in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK, according to UK national debt charity the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS).
Northern Ireland has been labelled as one of the UK’s worst two regions for personal debt, alongside London.
Only in Northern Ireland and London did most people contacting the CCCS for advice not have enough income to cover their basic living expenses. On average, CCCS clients in Northern Ireland had £55 less a month in income than they needed to cover their cost of living.
Consequently, 12.9% of those seeking help were advised to apply for bankruptcy.
Northern Ireland was also the region with the highest proportion of people recommended to seek Individual Voluntary Arrangements with their creditors.
Delroy Corinaldi, CCCS external affairs director, said: “Although anyone, whatever their background, age and location, can struggle with debt, there are parts of the country where people-debt problems appear to be more intractable.
“These debt-cluster areas, such as Northern Ireland, need special attention in terms of helping to prevent people from falling into unmanageable debt, but also ensuring that those living in these areas are aware of the free debt advice and support that is available to them.”
The number of CCCS clients in Northern Ireland has nearly doubled in the past three years — rising from just over a thousand in 2007 to nearly 2,000 now.