Many with debt scrimping on food, says insolvency service

Insolvency service suspends application fees until end of 2015

Research found many people are scrimping on food and prioritising bills but are too embarrassed to seek help - or don’t actually see themselves as insolvent. Photograph: Getty Images

Research found many people are scrimping on food and prioritising bills but are too embarrassed to seek help - or don’t actually see themselves as insolvent. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Many people struggling with debt are still living below what is considered a reasonable living standard, according to the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI).

Research found many people are scrimping on food and prioritising bills but are too embarrassed to seek help - or don’t actually see themselves as insolvent.

Lorcan O’Connor, ISI director, said he met many people who didn’t actually realise they were insolvent and were committed to finding their own way out of debt.

He said: “They knew they were struggling, yet the last thing they wanted to do was to turn their back on their debts or seek help.

“We want these people to see that there is help available, that there’s no embarrassment in seeking it and no shame in taking it.”

Lack of awareness of the range of solutions available was also one of the main factors as to why people were not availing of State help through insolvency solutions.

The perceived cost of insolvency solutions was another issue raised during research focus groups, with many people thinking it would cost thousands of euro to avail of them.

The ISI has suspended all application fees until the end of 2015.

While the majority of Personal Insolvency Practitioners (PIPs) charge a consultation fee, in almost all cases this is in the region of €100 to €300, and some may not charge an initial fee at all.

Latest quarterly statistics show an almost two-fold increase in the number of people applying for Personal Insolvency Arrangements and Protective Certificates compared to the second quarter of 2014.

The ISI has launched an information campaign called Back on Track with online guides to debt solutions, and it plans to host meetings around the country with the aim of addressing the problem of debt.

“The key message here is very simple – if you’re living with the distress of debt, you’re not alone. There is help available and it’s time to talk to ISI,” Mr O’Connor said.