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We owe five times more than we did 
in 2008


The average person's debt is now five times bigger than at the start of the recession.

The average person's debt is now five times bigger than at the start of the recession.

Getty Images/Image Source

The average person's debt is now five times bigger than at the start of the recession.

The average person's debt on credit cards, utility bills and other unsecured loans is now five times bigger than it was at the start of the recession in 2008.

New figures seen by this newspaper also show a steep rise in the number of people who have been forced to declare themselves bankrupt after falling into debt.

The figures, from the company behind the debt defaulter's magazine Stubbs Gazette found the average consumer now owes €13,067 - about 23pc more than last year's average debt of €10,600.

Six years ago, when the economic downturn first started, the average consumer debt was only €2,442.

Many counties sank further into debt over the last year - and the average consumer debt recorded in most counties has exploded since the recession started.

In 2008, the highest average debt recorded for an Irish county was €7,359 for Kerry.

But today, the most indebted county in Ireland is Monaghan, with an average debt of €47,166. Donegal is the second most indebted county in Ireland, with an average debt of €26,311, followed by Longford, which has an average debt of €19,235.

"The economies of border counties, such as Donegal, Monaghan and Longford have suffered hugely over the last few years," said James Treacy, ceo of Stubbs Gazette.

In 2008, the average debt of 21 counties was below the €3,000 mark. Today, almost half of the Irish counties have an average debt of between €10,000 and €20,000.

The surge in consumer debt has forced many people to declare themselves bankrupt or to try to strike a State-backed debt deal through the Insolvency Service of Ireland, which was set up more than a year ago to administer debt deals for over-stretched borrowers.

In the first seven months of this year, 152 consumers declared themselves bankrupt, compared to just ten people in the first seven months of 2008, according to Stubbs Gazette.

Waterford is the most bankrupt county, followed by Monaghan, Kildare and Louth, according to Stubbs, which analysed the number of bankruptcies per head of population.

Louth is the county where consumers are most likely to apply for a State-backed debt deal, followed by Clare, Waterford, Monaghan and Kildare.

"Counties like Waterford and Limerick had major factory closures during the downturn," said Treacy. "The economy is going well at the moment, but only in certain parts. A lot of the country, such as the midlands and border, is still devastated."

Galway and Dublin are amongst the counties where consumer debt is lowest. The average Galwegian owes just over €4,000 while the average Dubliner owes €5,230. This is still higher than the averages in those counties in 2008.

"The Galway economy is doing quite well," said Treacy.

The Stubbs figures track debts that have been chased through the courts after an individual was unable to pay telephone, fuel, toll or tax bills, as well as payments on unsecured loans, such as credit cards, personal loans, overdrafts and credit union loans.

The average debt is taken as the figure mid-way between the highest and lowest debt in a particular county.

Sunday Indo Business