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9 million people in debt, but only 1.5 million seek help

New figures from the Money Advice Service show that 9m people in the UK are struggling with serious debts, but only 1.5m have sought help from advice agencies.

The report, published Wednesday 27th November, is based on a survey of 5,000 UK adults. Among it’s findings it reveals that the top debt blackspots in Scotland are Inverclyde (where 30.9% of people are in debt), Glasgow (29.0%), Dundee (28.8%), East Ayrshire (27.6%) and West Dunbartonshire (26.9%).  The lowest debt areas in Scotland are East Dunbartonshire (4.8%) and East Renfrewshire (7.2%). 

Responding, Citizens Advice Scotland’s Policy Manager Keith Dryburgh says, 

“It’s very worrying to see so many families struggling like this, but sadly it comes as no surprise to anyone in the CAB service. Debt is one of the most common issues we see. Over 1 in 4 cases we deal with now is related to debt. That means that every working day in Scotland, CAB advisers see 60 people with a debt problem.

“The good news is that we are able to help all of those people in some way. Either by identifying new sources of income for them, or negotiating with their creditors and maybe even writing off some of their debts. That’s why it’s so frustrating to see that so few people seek our help. So we want to urge people today, if you are struggling with a debt problem, contact the CAB now so our expert advisers can help you too. 

“We do understand that it’s hard to ask for help, and particularly hard to face up to a problem like this. But remember we see 60 such cases a day, so you’re not alone. We won’t judge you – we just want to help you get back on an even keel. Remember too that CAB advice is completely free, and confidential. So come and talk to us. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Contact your local CAB, or call our helpline on 0808 800 9060.” 

On the wider figures in the report, Keith Dryburgh says, 

“It’s notable that over 20% of these people are on benefits. There’s no doubt that the recent welfare reforms have had a terrible impact on people who were already on low incomes, cutting their income even further and forcing many of them to take out loans they really can’t afford. That’s the other message here. Debt breeds debt, and so people need to avoid getting into debts they can’t control. You should only ever borrow money you know they can repay, and should always shop around for the cheapest lender, rather than just using expensive high-interest lenders like payday loans.”

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