Increasing numbers rely on credit just to keep the lights on
A shocking 10% of Scots have had to use credit to pay utility bills.
Increasing numbers of hard driven families and individuals are getting themselves deeper into debt just to pay for essential water, electricity and gas supplies.
New research commissioned by the Debt Advisory Centre Scotland (DACS) shows an increase of 4% from last year of people using credit.
The findings also showed that one fifth of Scots are worried about paying next month’s bill.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has urged people to avoid getting into debt when paying their fuel bills and to instead get free financial advice from their local citizen’s advice bureau (CAB).
Spokesman Fraser Sutherland said: “Sadly these figures are not surprising to us. Every CAB in Scotland continues to report huge numbers of clients who are struggling with debt problems and unable to make ends meet.
It’s very worrying that so many people are in this situation. The impact of the recession clearly continues to bite in every community in Scotland
“Last year across Scotland we saw 247,000 cases that were debt-related. That’s 27% of all the cases we dealt with. More than we’ve ever seen before in a single year.
“It’s very worrying that so many people are in this situation. The impact of the recession clearly continues to bite in every community in Scotland."
The organisation also said that people's individual situations were being made worse by the government's welfare reforms.
"Our message to both the UK and the Scottish governments is that they need to respond to these figures, and to make sure that people who need additional support get it," said Sutherland.
“When people are in this kind of poverty and debt, it doesn’t just affect their finances, it affects their state of mind, and their physical health too, as well as their relationships.
“Our message to anyone who is struggling like this is that debt is not the answer. If you are using credit cards or loans to pay your essential bills, then you really need to stop and get some help. The good news is that expert help is available, for free.
“Your local CAB has a team of experienced Money Advisers who are there to help you manage your finances. They will help you square any current debts you have, and also help you maximise your income and avoid expensive loans.
“I know that asking for help can be difficult, but CAB advice is completely free, impartial and confidential. Our advisers help people like you every day.
“They won’t judge you - they just want to help you, just as CAB advisers have been doing for 75 years now. So make today the day you contact us and let us help you take control of your finances.”