Families in Lisburn are over £5m in debt according to the Lisburn Citizens Advice Bureau with many ‘struggling to survive.’
The figure was revealed at their recent AGM by Bureau Manager John Maxwell who says they were dealing with debts totalling £5,767,245 with fears that the sum could be even higher.
He said that what was more worrying were that 120 clients this year alone either failed to keep their appontments or cancelled.
“In the shrinking of household budgets, reduction in working hours and a pay freeze many people are struggling to survive, “ he said.
He said that with the set up of three food banks have helped families greatly.
Mr. Maxwell, said that on top of that more people were now having to deal with the change in benefits. He was concerned at what effect the Welfare Reform and Bedroom Tax would have on people already finding it hard to cope.
He said that there were concerns of the affect that the Universal Credit that replaces Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support Housing Benefit and Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credits would have.
Changes in the Disability Living Allowance that replaces Personal Independent Payment with new claimants now being assessed by a health professional would also be a burden on families.
Mr Maxwell said, “What is worrying many of our clients in the introduction of the so called Bedroom Tax. People of working age who receive Housing Benefit and have an unused bedroom will have their Housing benefit cut by 14% if they have one unused bedroom and by 25% if there are two unused bedrooms.”
Mr Maxwell said he hoped that the Executive would show leniency and not to slavishly follow in Westminster’s footsteps.