Charity provides vital information for those worries about money, debt and bills
Scots struggling to cope with the financial pressures of Christmas have been encouraged to seek support for issues like debt, energy bills and other money concerns.
Advice Direct Scotland urged people not to suffer alone as it acknowledged the difficulties many are facing this year due to the cost of living crisis.
Spiralling energy bills and rising costs for food and other goods have left many in precarious situations when it comes to their finances – including those who have never had to worry before.
The charity highlighted the wide range of services it can offer those who need support.
And as the traditional Christmas shopping period gets underway, Advice Direct Scotland said anyone with worries about money, debt and bills should contact its specialist advisers.
It runs the energyadvice.scot service which can help with understanding energy bills, issues with meters, complaints and disputes and switching suppliers.
Advisors can make referrals to sources of support such as the Scottish Government’s Home Heating Support Fund, which seeks to provide financial relief to energy consumers who are experiencing significant financial hardship or are rationing energy to get by.
Individual households can also apply through www.homeheatingadvice.scot, by choosing the Household Application route, provided they have received money and/or energy advice from an accredited advice agency.
Advice Direct Scotland’s moneyadvice.scot service gives free information and support on a range of debt-related issues, and its consumeradvice.scot experts give advice on consumer-related issues like people’s rights when making returns and seeking refunds.
Meanwhile, the charity has a free online benefits checker tool, available at www.advice.scot, where Scots can look to make sure they are claiming everything they are eligible for.
Advice Direct Scotland has prepared some tips to help people budget and save money if they are able to go Christmas shopping this year:
- Make household bills a priority – Falling into arrears for things like council tax will add extra stress as it could lead to reminder letters and potential enforcement action.
- Plan meals and shopping lists – Making a list before you leave the house can help you stick to your budget, and planning meals in advance can save money and time.
- Enjoy free events - Many local attractions, community groups, libraries and museums will be offering free events for families so you don’t always have to spend money to enjoy yourself.
- Shop around and check for discounts – Check online for other retailers offering the same products for less.
- Use leftovers – Meats and vegetables can be used to make soups, which also helps to prevent food waste.
Colin Mathieson, spokesperson for Advice Direct Scotland, said: “We understand how hard this Christmas will be for Scots who are struggling with the sharp rises in costs for electricity, gas, food, and other products.
“Many people who were managing previously are now finding themselves in difficult situations. It is an incredibly challenging time, and the festive period will only add to the pressure as people are expected to spend money on gifts and food.
“We also know that this is likely to exacerbate existing debt problems or create new ones for those who have never found themselves in debt before.
“Help is available, and it is important for people to know they do not have to suffer alone.
“Advice Direct Scotland offers a wide range of services that can help with tackling debt, supporting people with their energy bills, making referrals to further sources of support, and giving advice on consumer issues.
“We would encourage Scots to get in touch with our advisers if they are worried. Sometimes talking things through can help us to make a plan and move forward.”