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Massive increase in number of people seeking advice over debt in past three years

The Free Legal Advice Centre says there has been a 400 per cent increase in debt queries in the last three years with a 45 per cent rise in the last year alone.

THE NUMBER OF people seeking advice on financial issues has risen by 400 per cent over the past three years according to new figures.

The Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC) said it received almost 11,000 queries at almost 90 legal advice centres as well as almost 10,000 telephone calls last year with a 400 per cent increase in queries relating to debt over the last three years in total, according to RTÉ News.

According to FLAC the most commons calls and inquiries relate to the current economic situation with 17 per cent of employment law queries relating to redundancy and 25 per cent relating to dismissal.

In the last year, queries for issues such as rent and mortgage arrears, arrears to estate management companies and repossession proceedings have risen nearly half, 45 per cent, in the past year alone, reports the Irish Examiner.

FLAC said that last year was one of the most challenging in the history of the State and that its reports between 2003 and 2009 had warned of the dangers of widespread credit being made available without proper assessment of people’s ability to repay.

Director Noeline Blackwell also noted that it had warned as far back as 2003 of the dangers of light touch regulation.

In April, the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) said that 3,000 more people had made contact with it in the first three months of 2011 compared to the last quarter of 2010 with the most common debt problem being personal loans.

Also in April, a major report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that a number of Irish families were being pushed into poverty due to an over-dependence on benefits and the high cost of childcare.