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Communities Minister encourages uptake of debt advice given financial impacts of pandemic

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Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has encouraged people to avail of the support services available on money and debt, particularly given the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister Ní Chuilín was speaking at the start of Talk Money Week which is organised by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) to promote and facilitate conversations about financial well-being.

Throughout the pandemic the Department for Communities has sought to deliver a co-ordinated response to financial need in the community, with a clear focus on those who are most impacted. That response includes the provision of money and debt advice for individuals and businesses, delivered by accredited front-line providers.

Minister Ní Chuilín said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, a seismic impact on people and families’ incomes, their ability to work and therefore, their overall finances.

“In the coming weeks and months, we are likely to see increasing levels of debt due to issues such as the ending of mortgage payment holidays or reduced household incomes due to unemployment or reduced working hours.

“I am committed to supporting people and families to address any situation they may find themselves in so I have allocated additional funding to ensure that, as the need for money and debt services increase, we have sufficient levels of support to meet that need.

“Additional capacity will be managed by Advice NI in partnership with community-based money and debt advice providers who will deliver a multi-channel personal and small business debt advice service.”

Monies awarded through a Covid-19 Financial Inclusion Fund will also target those most likely to be adversely impacted by the economic fallout of the pandemic.

This support aims to build financial resilience and improve overall financial wellbeing through access to money management, low cost/affordable credit, promoting savings and linking into holistic debt and income maximization advice.

Minister Ní Chuilín concluded: “Due to the enormity of the pandemic and its wide-reaching impact we would encourage people to avail of the support provided by Advice NI and its community-based partners.

“Importantly, a full benefit entitlement check will also be carried out to make sure that in these difficult times, people are getting all the benefits and wider supports they are entitled to.”

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