A new survey has found that well over a third of parents in Northern Ireland (37 per-cent) are getting into debt trying to cope with costs at back-to-school time.
Parents of primary school children are, on average, in debt of £252. For secondary school parents, the average back-to-school related debt reported is £291.
The findings were revealed in the study commissioned by the Irish League of Credit Unions.
More than three quarters (76 per-cent) of parents said they found back-to-school costs a financial burden. Half of all parents in the survey said meeting costs was their biggest back-to-school related worry. Well over one third (37 percent) of parents said they would be forced to deny their children certain school items this year because they could not afford them. Of this group, almost a third said they could not afford new school shoes for their children, while four in ten said extracurricular activities would be cut from the budget.
Reacting to the findings, Omagh Credit Union said they were all too aware of the struggle for parents this time of year. “We do see parents approaching us around this time of year requesting assistance with either budgeting and saving for the back-to-school spend, or with taking out a loan to see them through.
It’s understandable that back-to school costs are seen as a financial burden for so many when parents are paying out £754 for every primary school child, and £1,160 for every secondary school child in their household. Omagh Credit Union are here to help with your back to school loan. Depending on the amount of loan required, it would typically be approved within days/hours and there are no hidden transaction fees or charges. As always, we are happy to work with parents to structure repayments in a way that suits their individual circumstances.
Of concern for the Credit Union was the finding that, of those parents who said they were getting into debt, well over a third (38 percent) said they had turned to a doorstep lender/payday loan company in an effort to cope with backto- school costs. Of this group, almost a quarter (24 per-cent) said they had borrowed between £400 and £500.
Catherine Loughrey, who is the manager of Omagh Credit Union, said, “I would really encourage these parents to reconsider approaching a doorstep lender or payday loan company, some of whom charge crippling interest rates.
“This can lead to a recurring cycle of unnecessary debt and panic borrowing. Our welcoming staff are always on hand in the Credit Union to talk through borrowing options with any parent in the local community who might need assistance, whether they be a new or existing member, and equally if they have never dealt with the credit union before. We are more than happy to assist anyone who might need a little extra financial assistance at this time of year.”