The regions set for debt explosion

Public sector protests in NIPaul Faith/PA Wire/Press Association Images

There is doing to be an explosion in debt problems over the next two years, with regions such as the North East and Northern Ireland bearing the brunt - according to the Money Advice Trust.

So why are these areas set for trouble, and why are women particularly at risk?

The cause

The catalyst for disaster, according to the debt charity, will be the cull in public sector jobs. It says that unemployment is one of the strongest factors in precipitating a debt crisis, and it is expecting a surge in demand for help.

The research predicts that 1.7 million people will look to debt charities for help this year, representing a 16%t increase on 2011, mostly down to growing unemployment and stagnating wage growth.

The troubled regions

It also finds that some regions will be particularly hard hit. In many regions the sheer size of the cuts - and the percentage of the workforce affected by it, will mean unemployment becomes a long-term issue that causes serious difficulties for the household finances.

Likewise, women are more likely to be employed in the public sector. Some 40% of women work for the government, compared to 20% of men, so they will be particularly hard-hit by the cuts. Given that women are more likely than men to have sole care of a family, this could propel them into serious financial difficulties very quickly.

The research, commissioned by the Money Advice Trust and carried out by the University of Nottingham, forecasts a particularly sharp increase in debt problems for people in Northern Ireland - which is expected to see 40% more people needing help with debt issues. Other regions to see large percentage increases in those suffering debt problems are the North East, Wales, The East of England and the East Midlands.

Joanna Elson, Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: "High levels of unemployment can cast a long shadow over towns and communities, and one of the problems unemployment brings is that it is a major driver of financial difficulties. Those areas of the UK that are likely to see unemployment grow as a result of public sector cuts are likely to see a correspondent growth in debt problems. "

So what can you do?

The charity suggests ten steps to help deal with debt
  1. Don't ignore the problem – the sooner you get advice about your debts, the easier it will be to deal with the situation.
  2. Get some free advice – think carefully before going to a fee-charging adviser when free, independent help is available. There are charities like National Debtline, My Money Steps, CCCS and Citizens Advice. National Debtline can be contacted on 0808 808 4000, while My Money Steps offers online advice for dealing with your debts, visit www.mymoneysteps.org any time of the day or night to get started.
  3. Don't borrow money to pay off your debts without thinking carefully – always take advice before making this step.
  4. If you have lost your job, or are off work because of illness check whether your payments are covered by payment protection insurance – always read the small print of these policies
  5. Check that you are claiming all the benefits you can – go to www.direct.gov.uk and look at the money, tax and benefits section, also visit www.turn2us.org.uk.
  6. Work out a budget to help decide how much you can put towards repaying debts – a money adviser can help construct a budget, or you can visit www.mymoneysteps.org.
  7. Decide on your best option for dealing with your debts – a money adviser can identify the range of options you have and their various implications
  8. Make sure to tackle priority debts first – some debts are more important than others – for example if you fall behind on mortgage payments you could lose your home.
  9. Take action – after you have decided your route back to financial health – don't delay.
  10. Remember, you don't have to struggle on your own – free, independent advice is available from a range of charitable organisations.

Regions expecting most job losses, according to PriceWaterhouse Coopers

Northern Ireland, 38,000 or 5.1% of jobs
Wales, 51,000 or 4.4% of jobs
North East 51,000 or 4.1% of jobs
Scotland 94,000 or 4.1% of jobs
North West 43,000 or 3.9% of jobs
Yorks & Humber 82,000 or 3.8% of jobs
South West 81,000 or 3.5% of jobs
West Midlands 80,000 or 3.4% of jobs
East Midlands 59,000 or 3.2% of jobs
East of England 72,000 or 3.2% of jobs
London 121,000 or 3.2% of jobs
South East 111,000 or 3% of jobs

Regions expecting biggest debt explosions by 2013


Northern Ireland, in 2011 52,300 people were helped. The charity says this will rise 40%
North East, in 2011 59,000 people were helped. The charity says this will rise 31%
Wales, in 2011 66,000 people were helped. The charity says this will rise 23%
East Midlands, in 2011 107,000 people were helped. The charity says this will rise 22%
East of England, in 2011 73,000 people were helped. The charity says this will rise 22%
Yorks & Humber, in 2011 99,000 people were helped. The charity says this will rise 21%
Scotland, in 2011 78,000 people were helped. The charity says this will rise 21%
North West, in 2011 107,000 people were helped. The charity says this will rise 20%
London, in 2011 139,800 people were helped. The charity says this will rise 16%
West Midlands, in 2011 100,000 people were helped. The charity says this will rise 12%
South West, in 2011 121,400 people were helped. The charity says this will rise 12%
South East, in 2011 135,800 people were helped. The charity says this will rise 10%
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