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Campaigns demand better funding for debt advice services

This news post is about 1 year old

Power to The People and Unite For A Workers’ Economy are launching a campaign to highlight the importance of local debt advice

A coalition of campaigns has come together to demand funding for local debt advice services amidst the ongoing cost of living crisis.

After its successful Feed the Weans campaign, which scrapped free school meal debt in Glasgow, Unite For a Workers’ Economy has teamed up with anti-fuel poverty campaigners Power To The People to demand better resources for Scotland’s debt advice services. 

Last week, it was reported that food inflation remained just shy of 20% – the second-highest rate in 45 years. While multinational corporations announce record profits, in May it was reported that the number of Scottish households living in fuel poverty has risen by 40% in three years. 

Together with debt advisors and community campaigners, Power to The People and Unite For A Workers’ Economy are launching a campaign to highlight the importance of local debt advice and demand action from the Scottish Government. 

The Face To Face campaign is calling on the Scottish Government to increase funding for the Fuel Insecurity Fund to £40 million, increase funding for local authority-funded debt advice services by 20% and allocate the £6m Debt Advice Levy Fund to face to face and free debt advice service in communities, instead of larger online or call centre debt services.

There is growing concern the Scottish Government is failing to do more to support local advice agencies during the cost of living crisis, preferring to allocate funding to national agencies that are not providing frontline services to people struggling with debt, energy and benefit problems.

None of the £30m Fuel Insecurity Fund has been allocated to local advice agencies and no additional funding has been provided to local authorities to ensure additional support to local advice agencies.

In March, YouGov polling found that 506,342 Scots expected to increase their overdraft use to cope with the cost of living crisis. It is vital, the campaigners argue, that community debt services are supported to guide people through this increased pressure.

Power To The People and Unite For A Workers’ Economy’s Face To Face campaign will use a variety of methods to force concessions from the Scottish Government. 

The campaign wrote to First Minister Humza Yousaf to highlight its demands. In a letter to the Power To The People campaign during the SNP leadership election, Yousaf promised that any government he leads will have a “laser focus” on “tackling the scourge of fuel poverty.”

Commenting on the campaign launch, Councillor Matt Kerr from Power To The People said: “There is a perception that the energy crisis is at an end, especially as it is no longer in the headlines. We need to remember that Scottish households are paying more than ever for their energy bills. People are now more in need of help than at any other time in this crisis but local debt advice services are on their knees, with long waiting times to get a face-to-face interview, because of a lack of funding. Many advisers themselves don’t know how they will pay their own bills and keep the lights on.” 

Claire Peden, an organiser from Unite For A Workers’ Economy, Said: “Debt advice keeps people in their homes, families together and the heating on. It stops people from going to prison for debts like fines and council tax and has a massive benefit to mental health. But debt advice services are overworked and underfunded. It's now critical that the Scottish Government increases funding and provides a lifeline to the most vulnerable in our communities.”