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People aged 35-54 feeling particular concern over debt, survey shows

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The level of concern over future debt is particularly being felt by 35-54-year-olds living in Dublin, the commuter belt and other urban/suburban locations who are already in debt, according to a recent online survey.

This concern is likely to increase further this month with the end of the Covid-19 mortgage payment breaks.

The survey was conducted by Opinions Market Research on behalf of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (Mabs) which is funded and supported by the Citizens Information Board.

The research was conducted in June among a sample group of 1,007 adults in the State concerned with current or future debt and was compared to results found in October 2019 using the same methodology and sample.

Almost eight in 10 (78 per cent) of those surveyed report their household financial circumstances have been impacted negatively as a result of Covid-19.

Those on reduced salary equated to 15 per cent, reduced time or days working (17 per cent) made temporarily redundant (22 per cent) or made permanently redundant (8 per cent).

Less than half of those impacted have taken action as a result, and of those 21 per cent have sought assistance from a friend/family member, 11 per cent have borrowed from a financial institution and 6 per cent have taken money from a moneylender.

Just 11 per cent of those that have taken action have contacted a debt resolution or support agency to date.

For the under 35 year olds and those with families, in particular, while concern with debt remains high it is not quite at the same level as it was in October 2019 (down from 83 per cent to 76 per cent).

Reasons stated for this change were stress leading into the Christmas period was no longer a factor, pandemic supports were cushioning the true impact and that there is a sense that “everyone has been impacted”.

The sense of shame associated with the level of debt has also fallen since October (down 7 per cent to 49 per cent).

Michelle O’Hara, Regional Manager for South Leinster Mabs, said there is evidence to suggest that people “freeze in a time of crisis”, indicating that the real financial impacts are yet to come.

“This will become evident with the end of the mortgage payment break this month,” Ms O’Hara said.

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