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Half a million Scots have to borrow money to pay for food

2 Oct 2013

Citizens Advice Scotland have urged the UK government to re-think its welfare reforms, as figures reveal that around half a million Scots had to borrow money this summer to pay for food.

The Debt Advisory Centre Scotland (DACS) has published figures showing that 1 in 10 Scots (530,000 people) had to get a ‘food loan’ in July. The figure was twice as high for young Scots (aged 18-24).

In response, Citizens Advice Scotland’s Chief Executive Margaret Lynch says

“These figures are very worrying, and show once again the harsh reality of how people are living in Scotland today. Half a million Scots don’t have enough money to put food on the table for themselves and their families. Many of them are taking out loans which they know they won’t be able to repay. Others are having to go to foodbanks. If so many people are unable to provide something as basic as food, it’s clear that the system is failing. 

“Across Scotland, CAB advisers see people every day now who are in this situation. One of our concerns is that by borrowing like this they are just storing up debts that they are unlikely to be able to re-pay, and so making their situation worse - particularly if they are using high-interest lenders like payday loans. This is how people get into the nightmare of un-controllable debt.  

“Another worry is that if people can’t afford food, it’s likely that many will  also be unable to afford fuel, and so will be freezing in their homes this winter. Indeed many will also struggle with their rent or mortgage payments – putting them at risk of losing their homes altogether.    

“The evidence we see in CAB cases tells us that this situation is largely caused by the UK government’s reforms to the welfare system - policies like the bedroom tax. Ministers keep saying that those who are vulnerable will always receive support. but these figures show that is just not the case. 10% of Scots can’t afford to put food on the table. That’s not a small number, and it’s not a minor problem. Ministers need to take heed of all this evidence, and understand that this is the real-life impact of their welfare reforms. They need to urgently review these policies, and work to re-create a system that protects people from this sort of poverty. 

“In the meantime people who are struggling with their finances should remember that help and advice is available. If you can’t afford your food or rent, then debt really is not the answer. The CAB gives expert money advice for free, and we can help you manage your finances, no matter how bad things seem. Remember too that our advice is free, confidential and impartial.”    

 

For CAS interviews please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010 or 07774 751655. Local CAB staff can also give local information and interviews in different parts of Scotland.  This number is for journalists only, for advice please call 0808 800 9060. 

The figures quoted above are from a survey by DACS, which is published today (2 Oct). Their press release is re-produced in full below. 

ENDS

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