Around 10 per cent of people with problem debts in Scotland cite the Covid-19 crisis as the primary cause of their financial distress.
Meanwhile, a sharp rise in the scale of rent arrears has been picked out as one of the most pronounced trends among Scots in financial trouble.
The relevant figures form part of a new report from the debt help charity StepChange, which supported more than 30,000 Scots over the course of 2020 and has been analysing its own data from last year.
According to the charity’s ‘Scotland in the Red’ report, the average person in problem debt in Scotland last year had 43 per cent more rent arrears outstanding than was the case in 2019.
StepChange has cited that detail on rents within its report as clear evidence that a huge number of households will continue to require financial support even after the public health aspects of the pandemic have subsided.
Extensive government support was given to individuals and businesses during 2020 in response to the pandemic but many people in Scotland nonetheless say that the Covid situation pushed them into a position of problem debt last year.
Around 70 per cent of Scots looking for debt advice from StepChange in 2020 had credit card debt, while a majority (53 per cent) had some form of personal loan outstanding.
Close to a fifth of people in problem debt said that they relied on credit cards to make ends meet for all or part of 2020.
It’s also clear from StepChange’s data that council tax debt and utility bills, as well as rent arrears, are hugely common issues among people in problem debt across Scotland.
“The past year has presented households with unprecedented challenges; thrown those just getting by into real financial difficulty and exacerbated the difficulties of those who were already struggling,” said Sharon Bell, head of StepChange Scotland.
“It’s really important, as the country begins to look towards some light at the end of the tunnel, that concrete steps are taken to support households in problem debt who will feel they are facing a bleak financial future,” she added.
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