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Social workers in Northern Ireland need resource to tackle financial abuse of older people

One in five older people in Northern Ireland is likely to be experiencing financial abuse, according to a study.

The findings were described as “shocking” by the Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW) which called for more resources to tackle the problem.

The figure comes from the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland’s report Financial Abuse of Older People in Northern Ireland: The Unsettling Truth.

Incidents described range from feeling pressured into buying something to being prevented spending money by children eager maximise their inheritance.

Marcella Leonard, Chair of NIASW, said: “Social workers are well placed to spot the signs of financial abuse in older people but they need the time and resource to do so.

“Our recent Above and Beyond survey found social workers are already stretched and forced to work unpaid extra hours to plug gaps in the system.

“If we fail to take the needs of the workforce seriously it’s ultimately people in our communities that suffer – and that includes older adults who are vulnerable to financial abuse.”

Northern Ireland’s Commissioner for Older People Eddie Lynch said the under-reporting of financial abuse made the findings of the study “even more alarming”.

“This is because it is often difficult and painful for older people to report the crime, especially when the perpetrator is a trusted person,” he said.

He pledged further research to identify “critical areas” for action.