Advice NI 'bracing for surge in calls' due to strain caused by increasing cost of living

While the rate of inflation has dropped to its lowest level in 15 months, more people are turning to credit to "ease their financial pressures", according to Advice NI.

The organisation said strains are proving to be more acute for parents during the school summer holiday period.

It comes after Northern Ireland was found to be the only part of the UK which lacked a "proper policy response" to the cost-of-living crisis due to a lack of functioning government.

On Wednesday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Consumer Prices Index inflation was 7.9% in June, down from 8.7% in May.

The ONS said falling fuel prices was the biggest driver behind the drop, while food price inflation also reduced to 17.3% from 18.7% in May.Sinead Campbell is the Head of Money, Debt and Quality at Advice NI.

She said the service is "bracing for a surge in calls" due to "worsening financial struggles" driven by childcare costs, as well as increasing grocery and household bills.

The impact of which, she said, is hitting women and single mothers particularly hard as a result of income inequality.

"The summer break can be an incredibly challenging time, particularly for parents," said Ms Campbell.

"With schools closed and the absence of structured childcare, families often struggle to meet their financial obligations while trying to manage children’s expectations during the summer break.

"With mortgage interest rates rising and some households having to have an extra few hundred pounds just to keep a roof over their heads, we know more people will turn to credit to ease their financial pressure, however this will only add more stress in the longer term.

"The rising costs of groceries and household bills has also put immense pressure on family budgets, and with interest rates expected to rise again in line with UK inflation, it’s an extra burden on households already grappling with financial insecurities.”

Meanwhile Siobhán Harding from the Women's Support Network at Ulster University said the women expressed anxiety around "school costs which is likely to become an increasing pressure point for families over the summer period as the cost of food remains high".

Sinead Campbell said: "Parents are also having to buy school uniforms and school shoes.

“The ongoing cost-of-living crisis has a huge impact on women with families, and single mothers, leaving them with the daunting task of making ends meet.

"Especially during the summer holidays where some women are effectively ‘paying to work’ or, in some cases, exiting the workforce altogether to prioritise childcare, leaving them at a significant disadvantage regarding financial stability and providing for their families.”

Advice NI is a free and confidential money and debt service funded by the Department for Communities.

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.

More information is also available on the Advice NI website:

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