Advice NI responds to recent reports on poverty in Northern Ireland

Debt Action NI, Advice NI’s free money and debt service, has been at the forefront in helping people in Northern Ireland cope with the economic downturn.

Since it launched on 1 August 2012, the service has helped over 9,500 people deal with nearly £140 million in debt. The top 3 debts enquiries were mortgage debt with £34.4 million, Credit Card debt with £23.8 million and Mortgage Shortfall debt with £23.3 million. During this time, we have also dealt with over £5 million in high interest credit debt and £3 million in benefit and tax credit overpayment debt.

The importance of this work can be seen in the context of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation research which highlighted that the poorest families in Northern Ireland have suffered a dramatic fall in their income following the economic downturn, deteriorating at a markedly worse rate than the rest of the UK.

Two in every five of Debt Action NI clients had a low income and over half did not have any savings. Since last summer, the service has seen nearly 600 clients whose income did not stretch to their next pay day with a growing number relying on credit to buy essentials. In the same period, the service also referred 80 clients to local food banks. Northern Ireland has seen an escalation in the number of food banks, which was highlighted in a recent Advice NI report ‘Turning the Tide’.

A client approached the Debt Action NI Ballymena service as she recently split up from her husband. She worked two small part-time jobs, as she could not find full time work and none of her jobs could offer her overtime. She had debts totalling £17,000 and over half of her wages went towards paying her rent. The remainder of her income did not last to the end of the month, which meant she was relying on family to support her. The most suitable option identified for the client was bankruptcy but, unfortunately, she could not afford the fees. The client said about the service, “The Debt Action NI adviser was very helpful and considerate. She did not judge me and she treated me with respect. I was made to feel comfortable even at my lowest times of despair.”

If you are experiencing financial difficulties, you can contact Debt Action NI by calling our FREEphone 0800 917 4607, text ‘Action’ to 81025 or visit our website where you can chat to our virtual adviser, send an appointment request,  download self-help information or find your nearest Debt Action NI adviser.

Further Information:

Contact Sinead Campbell on 028 9064 5919

  1. Debt Action NI is managed by Advice NI, the membership organisation for independent advice centres in Northern Ireland.
  2. Debt Action NI is funded by Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment, coordinated by Advice NI and supported by Payplan.
  3. Debt Action NI currently operates in 19 council areas across Northern Ireland. Debt Action NI advisers provide a free, confidential and impartial service open to everyone. It is an integrated service with a number of access options. People can call our Freephone helpline 0800 917 4607 to speak directly to an adviser. They can come through our dedicated website,, where they can send an appointment request, email an adviser, chat to our virtual adviser or use our online budgeting tool. We also have a list of all our advisers on our website. People can also text ‘Action’ to 81025 and an adviser will call them back. Advisers offer face to face appointments and home visits to those who are most vulnerable.
  4. For more information about the ‘Turning the Tide’ report click