“There is help and support available if you are struggling with debt,” says Lisa Farrell, a specialist Debt Adviser with Community Advice Fermanagh.

As part of The Impartial Reporter’s continued coverage of the cost of living crisis, and as part of the Your Money Matters campaign, Lisa has compiled advice below on debt and solutions to debt, drawing on her experience in advising people facing a wide range of debt-related issues.


With the cost of housing increasing including both rents and mortgages alike, it is important to note that, for example, mortgage lenders have provisions available to support those having trouble paying their mortgage or secured loan.

Most lenders are willing to accept arrears paid over the lifetime of the mortgage term, and in some circumstances can offer a more competitive interest rate in line with what is available to other customers.

Many have dedicated teams for assisting anyone who is vulnerable and can offer further measures to assist their customers in these circumstances.

I act as a negotiator with lenders and advise that many realistic proposals are accepted first time.

Many lenders work with customers to reach solutions, and view repossession as a last resort.

Similarly, Land and Property Services offer some flexibility for payment beyond the current rates year, and work with clients who engage with them prior to any court action. Early intervention and realistic proposals are regularly sufficient where arrears have accrued.

Increasing utility bills may result in higher bills and increased debt. The utility companies have policies in place to assist those struggling before any potential disconnection.


Several debt solutions are available to those who may be struggling with debts. I act an intermediary for Debt Relief orders as a solution for those dealing with debts under £20,000 who do not have assets, and a small amount of disposable income.

Where the criteria are met, clients are assisted and guided through the process of making an application to discharge their debt. I have also been involved in the consultation process on behalf of Community Advice Fermanagh at increasing the debt, income, and asset limit so that more people can avail of it as a solution for dealing with non-priority debts.

In addition, advice, support, and assistance is available for any persons seeking a debt management plan where interest and charges are often reduced for those currently experiencing financial difficulty.

There is also help available, including advice and practical assistance with bankruptcy, including form completion and advice given regarding Individual Voluntary Arrangements – a more formal debt solution available and preferred by those who own property. Debt write-offs are also granted where the circumstances allow with evidence of the mental health of the debtor.

Available Recourse

Almost all lenders have policies in place in line with their regulatory requirements to assist customers in financial difficulty, and in particular offer extra support to those who may have suffered financial abuse or have problems with gambling.

Schemes such as Chargeback for debit card purchases can provide redress where there is a contractual breach between parties purchasing goods or services, and Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 offers free protection where the credit card provider is jointly liable for breach of contract or misrepresentation by the retailer.


With financial scams having increasing prevalence in society, many banks have signed up to a voluntary code of practice to refund their customers for unauthorised transactions, and in most cases once a complaint is made, they often put the customer back in the position they were once in before the fraud took place, with the Financial Ombudsman investigating the case.

Further information if you are struggling with your debts at the moment...

If you are worried about debt or any of the issues mentioned you can phone for free impartial, confidential advice on 0739 492 1753 or e-mail lfarrell@communityadvicefermanagh.com.

READ MORE: Fermanagh families are going hungry as cost of living crisis hits hard

#YourMoneyMatters: If you would like to share your experience of the cost of living crisis, if you are a charity or organisations offering support, or a businesses overcoming the odds to survive and thrive, email ciaran.flaherty@impartialreporter.com.

Top tips for dealing with debt:

• Contact mortgage lenders before arrears occur if possible – more options may be available to you.

• If negotiating with a creditor, make realistic proposals based on affordability.

• Seek support early so that a workable solution can be identified at an early opportunity.

• Let banks or other financial institutions know if you are a vulnerable customer.

• Be aware that for non-priority debts, lenders can accept lesser amounts for a short term if you are experiencing a temporary financial situation.

• Pay priority creditors such as mortgage, rent secure loan mortgage etc first if you are struggling.