As many as 700,000 people across Scotland are believed to be already in or at serious risk of falling into problem debt.
That’s according to the latest assessments of personal debt situations in Scotland by the debt help charity StepChange.
The charity describes the growth in problem debt among Scots as being largely attributable to issues relating to poverty, poor housing conditions, welfare cuts, ill health and insecure work.
Among the findings to emerge from StepChange’s latest ‘Scotland in the Red’ report is that council tax is becoming an increasingly significant financial burden for many thousands of Scottish households.
The report says that around 46 per cent of all StepChange clients in Scotland in 2018 were in council tax arrears, with the average debt being owed to local authorities now worth more than £2,000.
Around one in four people who reached out to StepChange in 2018 for advice or assistance with problem debts said that the primary reason for their financial crisis was a reduction in income or benefit payments.
Meanwhile, the average person with problem debt in Scotland is believed to be around £826 in debt to their electricity supplier, with a growing number of people falling behind on their most essential bills.
StepChange has said it wants to see individuals across the country being more proactively encouraged to seek help in dealing with their debts at the earliest possible stage.
The charity has also called for urgent action to be taken to support people struggling to keep pace with demands for council tax payments.
“The vast majority of StepChange clients are in problem debt due to circumstances they could not have prevented or planned for such as unemployment, ill-health or reductions in income,” said Sharon Ball, who leads the charity’s activities in Scotland.
Ms Ball also noted that StepChange clients in Scotland are “significantly more likely” to have problems with paying their council tax bills than people living elsewhere across the UK.
“I am increasingly alarmed by the increases in the proportion of our clients who are struggling with household bills, particularly council tax,” she said.
If you live anywhere in Scotland and you’re worried about how to deal with your problem debts then Scotland Debt Solutions can help. Contact us directly to arrange a FREE and confidential consultation.
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