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Over 1.4million people in Scotland ran out of money before payday in the last year

Over 1.4 million people in Scotland have run out money before pay day in the last year, according to new analysis from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).

Polling by YouGov for the charity found that 32 per cent of people ran out of money either ‘always’, ‘most of the time’, or ‘sometimes’. Taking into account Scotland’s adult population that works out to 1.42 million people.

The research defines ‘pay day’ as including payment day for pensions and benefits and shows the extent of financial insecurity across the country as a challenging Autumn looms with: 

  • The cost of living rising
  • The furlough scheme set to end
  • Universal Credit facing a cut of £20 per week
  • The energy price cap rising in October, meaning higher bills

Citizens Advice Scotland has today launched Our Advice Adds up, a campaign encouraging people to get advice to maximise their incomes and cut their bills.

People can seek advice from the CAB network, or online through our public advice site  or our self-help Money Map tool.   

Last year the Citizens Advice network in Scotland unlocked £147 million for people, and the value of the network was estimated at £245million in benefits to wider Scottish society.

Citizens Advice Scotland Chair, Rory Mair CBE said:

“These are staggering figures, and show the extent of financial insecurity across the country. The reality is a lot of people are one big unexpected bill, or a sudden drop in income, away from being in real trouble. 

“The coming weeks could see drops in income and higher bills for millions, with furlough ending, Universal Credit set to be cut by £20 per week and energy bills going up. People are facing a perfect storm.

“Our message to policy makers is to make income and living standards central to the economic recovery from Covid, but people should also be aware that the Citizens Advice network is here to help.

“We have set up, an online tool which rounds up all your options to increase your income and cut your bills. The CAB network helped over 171,000 people last year and our advice adds up.

“We’ve been helping people for over 80 years and we’re here to help people now.”



1.4 million running out of money

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1032 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20th - 25th May 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scotland adults (aged 18+). 

CG_Q3. In general, how often, if at all, would you say you run out of money before pay day (incl. payment day for pensions; benefits; etc.), resulting in needing to use credit (e.g. credit card, payday loans etc.), overdraft facility or borrow money to get by? 


Unweighted base 


Base: All Scottish Adults 




Most of the time 








Don't know 


Prefer not to say 


 With 32 per cent of people running out of money before pay day, this works out to 1.42 million adults in Scotland, based on the latest population statistics:  

All calculations to extrapolate the data to general population have been conducted by the CAS team. Margin of error will depend on the size of each groups of interest observed. 

A ‘perfect storm’ for people

The energy price cap will increase from 1 October for the 15 million customers across the UK. Those on default tariffs paying by direct debit will see an increase of £139 from £1,138 to £1277. Prepayment customers will see an increase of £153 from £1,156 to £1309.

Universal Credit is set to be cut by £20 per week – equivalent to £1040 a year – by October 6.

The furlough scheme is set to finish at the end of September.

Official figures show that the increase in the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, hit 3.2% in the year to August. This is the biggest jump in prices since records began in 1997.