Belfast Telegraph

Citizens Advice deal with 100 queries a day

By Brendan McDaid

The Citizens Advice Bureau in Londonderry has dealt with over 34,000 inquiries — more than 100 per day — and handled almost £10m debt in a single year, it will reveal today.

Bosses at the city’s CAB service have said local people are struggling to deal with a tsunami of debt, housing and employment issues, according to their annual report for 2010-11, which is being launched today.

Business debts and mortgage arrears have soared, with overall housing inquiries in Derry rising 245% on the previous year.

Credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts, meanwhile, made up around £5m of the debt being handled through the city’s CAB team in the city centre and the Waterside.

Over 50% of inquiries to the CAB office were in relation to welfare benefits, while more than 20 people a week on average contacted the centre concerning employment issues.

The figures paint a bleak |picture of the severe impact the economic downturn and Government austerity measures are having locally.

They also come just days after a succession of new reports showed Derry has the worst un

employment and child poverty in Northern Ireland.

Bureau manager Jackie Gallagher said the UK is currently locked in its biggest post-war downturn while Londonderry tries to survive a sustained buffeting from adverse economic and social setbacks, which have been exacerbated by welfare reform and also the introduction of universal credit.

“We are also witnessing increased job losses and redundancies, highest unemployment in Northern Ireland, spiralling debt problems, increased house repossessions, benefit dependency and family breakdown,” said Ms Gallagher.

34,000

Number of inquiries to CAB in Londonderry last year

£10m

Total amount of debt dealt with by CAB in the area last year

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