Worst Blue Monday on Record: Advice NI

Advice NI Urges Businesses and Individuals to Seek Free Debt Advice
Advice NI is encouraging people and businesses experiencing debt to get in touch this ‘Blue Monday.’ January 18th is commonly cited as the most depressing day of the year, when overspending during the festive season becomes a reality as bills and debt begin to mount up. 

Northern Ireland’s largest advice charity is predicting 18th January 2021 to be the worst Blue Monday on record, following an economically devastating 2020. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) has recorded over 10,000 proposed redundancies since March 2020, contributing to its highest annual total on record.*
Advice NI and its members dealt with over half a million enquiries in 2019/20. During 2020, its debt service dealt with over £28m of debt in more than 7,500 agreements and anticipates that this will only become worse.  

Financial difficulties are on the increase due to the pandemic, with many claiming benefits for the first time. NISRA reports that the claimant count has more than doubled to over 60,000 since March 2020. **

Advice NI’s free and confidential Debt & Money Service, funded by the Department for Communities, aims to help clients to ‘free their future’ in 2021 by addressing the issue head on. This can be done by seeking advice to help resolve debt as quickly as possible.

Sinead Campbell, Head of Money, Debt & Quality, Advice NI said:

“As December’s credit card bills hit the letterboxes at the end of January, the reality hits that many people will have overspent on their credit card over the festive period and will struggle to meet their minimum payments.  Typically credit cards have relatively high interest rates, often in excess of 17% APR, so if they are not paid in full each month interest and charges can quickly spiral out of control.”

She added,

“If you are struggling with debt during the Covid 19 pandemic you don’t have to face it alone. You can contact Advice NI by calling the Freephone helpline on 0800 915 4604 to speak directly to an adviser between 9am and 5pm Monday – Friday. You can browse our website, www.adviceni.net/debt for full details of the service including contact details and locations of advisers in your area, and you can use the Money Talks hub to access useful online tools and information.”

Advice NI and the Independent Advice Network have 69 members and more than 300 advisers across Northern Ireland, providing free advice. During 2019/20, it helped over 5,000 people deal with £52million in debt queries. It also advised 195 businesses dealing with over £8.2 m of debt queries

Anyone can access Advice NI’s money and debt advice now for free and in confidence on freephone: 0800 915 4604 or by emailing advice@adviceni.net.
 
ENDS

Notes:
  1. For further information, contact Kerry McKittrick, Advice NI Communications Co-ordinator by emailing kerry@adviceni.net or by calling 028 9064 5919
  2. *Figures from https://www.nisra.gov.uk/statistics/labour-market-and-social-welfare/redundancies
  3. **Figures from https://www.nisra.gov.uk/publications/labour-market-report-november-2020
  4. Advice NI and the Independent Advice Network in Northern Ireland dealt with 540,983 enquiries in 2019/20. For more information log on to www.adviceni.net
  5. Advice NI’s Freephone helpline number for all our advice services is 0800 915 4604 or contact us at advice@adviceni.net. You can call this number 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday for free and impartial advice on benefits, HMRC products, non-medical Covid-19 matters, the EU Settlement Scheme as well as personal and business debt.