The Real Cost of Summer Leads to Serious Debt for Many

Kids have been back to school a few weeks now but many families are still dealing with increased costs associated with the summer break.

Advice NI is urging people to seek debt/money advice as many are still struggling to cope with the triple whammy of additional costs of school holidays, the Cost of Living crisis, and the increasing costs incurred with kids returning to school.  Advice NI’s money and debt service, says that with Northern Ireland having longer summer holidays than England and Wales, families here have been hit harder.


Sinead Campbell, Advice NI says that this can be a very difficult time for many,

“This year we are seeing added pressures with the cost of living crisis.  Families are already struggling to deal with the increased costs of food, fuel, and energy. Those most vulnerable or low-income families already find the summer holidays a stressful time and can lead to those getting into debt to manage children’s expectations and the sheer cost of having extra mouths to feed for two months.  Asda's latest Income Tracker Report shows the spending power of families in Northern Ireland has fallen below £100 for the first time since 2017.  It states that the average family here is £188.34 worse off per month compared to June 2021. 

This year increased school uniform costs have lead to further financial strain. According to PEG: “The Parent Engagement Group research found the average cost in Northern Ireland of a primary school uniform was £173 and post-primary £378. Although we welcome the 20% increase in School uniform grants provided to low-income families the size of the grant (£35.75 for primary school children, and around £75 for post-primary) is far smaller than similar schemes in the rest of the UK and Ireland (where, broadly, grants are two are three times higher than in NI).  You can really see how families would struggle to make ends meet.

Research Commissioned by the Irish League of Credit Unions in 2020 found one-third of parents are plunged into debt each year when buying school uniforms. The average debt encountered by parents when buying uniform was £222. That was a £30 increase on the average debt from 2019.”

Advice NI’s debt & money advice service, which has helped 12,500 clients with £106m in debt since 1 April 2019, says the actual cost of summer really adds up when increased grocery bills, childcare costs, and entertainment including days out put a strain on the family purse.  Working parents are also hugely affected over the summer months by increased childcare and food costs.  Families report an average spend of £140 per week on childcare, which is the largest monthly bill – ahead of their mortgage or rent – for a third of families  Over a quarter – 28% – report that they are struggling to meet the costs of childcare.  41% of parents report regularly having to use means other than their income to pay for childcare including savings, overdrafts, credit cards, and even payday loans.


Jonny Currie, Northern Ireland Lead for the Trussell Trust, which supports 22 food banks in NI:

“Over 16,000 emergency food parcels were provided by Trussell Trust food banks in Northern Ireland from April to June this year - a 28% increase on the same period last year.  As inflation continues to increase and rising bills are putting pressure on families across the region, our network expects the need for emergency food to rise further still, over the coming months and beyond. Our partnership with Advice NI is a vital support service for food bank users struggling with mounting debt.”   


Sinead Campbell, Head of Debt & Money concluded:

“We urge families who have turned to credit cards or loans to deal with mounting financial strains over the summer months whilst trying to cope with the cost of living crisis to seek advice.  We can offer free & confidential debt advice, we can negotiate with to your creditors and provide you with options to help deal with your debt.  We advise everyone to have a benefit entitlement check carried out to ensure you are in receipt of all of the support you are entitled to. We can also make referrals to local foodbanks where necessary.”


If you, or anyone you know is struggling with debt, you don’t have to face it alone, contact Advice NI on Freephone 0800 915 4604 to speak directly to an adviser between 9am and 5pm Monday – Friday, or email or visit to find your local advice centre or use our web chat. There are a number of downloadable information guides available on the Money Talks hub -




Notes to Editors:

  1. For further information contact  Elkie Ritchie, Communications Manager 07702846030 of Sinead Campbell Head of Money/Debt DD028 90025059
  2. Advice NI Debt service is funded by the Department for Communities
  3. Advice NI is the umbrella body for the independent advice network in Northern Ireland and has approximately 69 members across NI who provide advice on debt, benefits, Tax Credits, and HMRC products and EUSS Advice NI members dealt with almost 300,00 enquiries per year, with the majority being social security benefits and debt related.
  4. Irish League of Credit Unions School Uniform Debt Report
  5. Employers for Childcare – Childcare Survey 2022
  6. Asda income tracker Report
  7. Parent Engagement Report