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Experian list exposes Scotland's debt crisis

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) have said the fact that Scotland has six of the top 10 UK towns most in debt shows the extent of the debt crisis here.

Experian have published a list of the ten towns with the highest instances of personal debt. It includes Glenrothes, Livingston, Kirkcaldy, Hamilton, Paisley and Dunfermline.

CAS Chief Executive Lucy McTernan said,

“Sadly we are not surprised that Scotland dominates this list. CAB advisers in the towns mentioned will be very used to dealing with clients who are drowning in debt.

“It’s not just these six towns, but right across Scotland that people are experiencing financial difficulties in the wake of the recession. Incomes continue to fall as the cost of living increases, and too many families are really struggling to make ends meet.

“The sad truth is that debt is a fact of life for many people. If you are unable to pay your bills and put food on the table, you have no option but to borrow money to see you through. Unfortunately debt breeds debt, as people are forced to take out one loan to pay off another. So the smallest debt can quickly become unmanageable – particularly with so many unscrupulous lenders who are keen to impose high rates of interest on those who are least able to pay.

“Research among CAB debt clients has shown that personal debt levels rose by 50% over recent years, and the average un-secured debt is now over £20,000. Many people are going without essentials like food and fuel in order to try and pay off their debts.

“We need action from both Scottish and UK governments to help people who are struggling, and the UK government also need to review the cuts they are planning to make to benefits and other essential services that vulnerable people rely on. There was very little in the budget last week to help such people, and it seemed that Ministers had no understanding of how bad things are for many families. Maybe this list will convince them.

“We also need to see more suppot for low-cost lenders like Credit Unions. And in the meantime, anyone who is in debt and worried about their finances should seek help as soon as possible from their local CAB. Our advice is free, impartial and confidential, and we remain in the front line for anyone who has problems with debt.”

CAS represents the 84 Citizens Advice Bureaux who operate across Scotland. There are CABs in each of the six towns named in the Experian list.

For interviews please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010.