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Numbers seeking debt help reach highest level since crisis began

More than 50 per cent of those looking for help were families with children, new figures show.

Image: Daquella manera via Flickr

MORE PEOPLE ASKED for help with their debts in the first quarter of this year than at any stage since the recession began, new figures show.

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service dealt with 7,593 new clients in the first three months of 2012.

This is the highest number for a three-month period at any stage since the beginning of Ireland’s financial crisis and represents an increase of around seven per cent since 2011.

More than 50,000 people visited the service’s website over the same period. It is the fourth consecutive year-on-year increase.

The largest proportion – more than one-third of the total – were in difficulty with personal loans from financial institutions.

Credit card and utility-bill debts were the next biggest causes of people seeking help, with mortgages in fourth place accounting for around one-eighth of new MABS clients.

Almost one-third of those looking for assistance were earning a wage. Two thirds were receiving social welfare benefits.

More than 50 per cent of those making contact with MABS were families with children. The largest group were between the ages of 26 and 40.

Relatively speaking, very few people younger than 25 or older than 65 contacted the service.

Helpline calls also spiked, reaching their highest level for a year. However, there were fewer calls than in the first three months of 2012.

More: Allowing homes to restructure debt will solve crisis quicker, says IMF>

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Michael Freeman

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