Tuesday 24 January 2017

Loans and credit cards see struggling consumers with average debt of €46,700

Published 28/11/2016 | 02:30

The report said that housing problems figured prominently and many vulnerable and distressed callers were facing homelessness for the first time Photo: Stock
The report said that housing problems figured prominently and many vulnerable and distressed callers were facing homelessness for the first time Photo: Stock

The average recorded debt people sought help for last year was €46,700 - fuelled mainly by outstanding personal loans, utility bills and overdue credit card payments.

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Mortgage debt was down the rankings for landing people in financial trouble and accounted 16.2pc of the cases handled by the Citizens Information Board.

Other areas which caused people to go into the red were money-lending debts, rent arrears, money owned to catalogue companies, outstanding fines and sub-prime loans, according to the board's annual report. Just over half the people seen by advisers at the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), which is part of the overall information service, were aged between 41 and 65, but more than a third were 26-40 years old.

Angela Black, chief executive of the board, said overall the issues that citizens needed help with had clearly shifted over the courses of recent years.

While the focus was on redundancy and unemployment at the start of the downturn it has now veered towards unsustainable debt and mortgage arrears. Social welfare queries formed the biggest category fielded by the 42 offices, followed by health, employment, money and tax. Medical cards were the highest issue query, accounting for 53,111queries.

The report said that housing problems figured prominently and many vulnerable and distressed callers were facing homelessness for the first time,

Rent supplement continued to be an area of particular concern, with a rise in concerns.

It also revealed that accessing social welfare payments was becoming increasingly complex.

"People often face a wide range of financial and personal challenges when choosing services. This makes it critical that they can easily access information and advice about the full range of public services," they said.

Meanwhile, the board, in its submission to the HSE's review of the medical card, called for a rationalisation in relation to application forms.

It said there were currently five separate application forms - the medical card and GP visit card, GP visit card for the under-6s, the over-70s medical card care, the over-70s GP visit card and the medical card application form for children under 18 years with cancer diagnosis.

There should be clearer information on the two types of medical card applications and related assessment criteria for people aged over 70.

Irish Independent

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