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Thousands helped by new debt service

Fiona Magee, Advice NI, Sarah Reeve, Payplan and Minister Arlene Foster.

A free, confidential debt advice service has helped over 3,000 people deal with £54million of debt since it began in August.

Thursday, 17 January 2013
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Per client assisted, this averaged at £18,006 - including mortgage debt.

Debt Action NI was officially launched in Belfast on Thursday, after receiving £2.5 million government funding from Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

The service has been established throughout the region by Advice NI. It aims to help people manage their money and debt issues, and will run to 2015.

Fiona Magee, deputy Chief Executive of Advice NI, said the most common type of debt for clients was credit card bills followed by personal loans, catalogue debt and overdrafts.

She added that one major problem for people is the fact that they owe money to lots of different creditors.

"For a growing number of people, crippling debt is becoming a major, life defining issue."

The new service can help debtors pay off multiple creditors through a 'single disbursement payment system.'

"This system allows those who can only afford a small/token offer payment to make a single payment, with Advice NI then negotiating with creditors to agree a monthly repayment.

"We know that this will be a major help to many people across Northern Ireland," she added.

A virtual advisor service is available online Monday to Friday while face to face advice, a text service, an online budgeting tool and freephone telephone service is offered every day of the year.

The service is being delivered in over 40 outlets across the region in partnership with Payplan, one of the UK's largest providers of free-to-client debt advice.

"The timing of the launch, when many people will be receiving their post-Christmas credit card bills highlights the need for the service," Ms Magee added.