StepChange Debt Charity Scotland and the Scottish Government have together launched a handbook to help improve access to free debt advice for struggling Scots.
The Scotland Debt Guide comes at a time of widespread financial distress for many households.
One in five Scots are using credit to make ends meet.”
Sharon Bell, StepChange Scotland.
Polling shows thousands of Scots are struggling with debt and behind on essential bills like Council Tax and rent, with more than one-fifth using credit to make ends meet and cover essential costs.
With support measures such as furlough coming to an end and £20 a week cut from Universal Credit this month, the debt advice sector is expecting demand for its services to rise.
The new guide includes information on the solutions available to those seeking advice, including the Debt Arrangement Scheme, debt management plans, bankruptcy, the Minimal Asset Process and trust deeds, among others.
It also includes a complete guide to putting together a budget and an explanation of what to expect when contacting a debt advisor, to help prepare anyone considering taking advice.
In addition, it provides information for getting in touch with a number of Scottish organisations that provide debt advice – StepChange Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland, Christians Against Poverty, Macmillan and Shelter.
A printed copy of the guide is available for free to any interested organisations or groups via the StepChange website.
Digital versions in English Urdu, Polish and Punjabi can also be downloaded for free.
Sharon Bell, head of StepChange Scotland, said: “At a time of financial uncertainty for many, it’s vital that as many people as possible are aware of the free, impartial services available to help them with their financial issues.
“The Scotland Debt Guide comes at a time when one in five Scots are using credit to make ends meet, with further difficulties on the horizon with the end of coronavirus support measures and the £20 cut to Universal Credit.”
Ms Bell added: “As more Scots find themselves in need of support from a free debt advice charity, the Scotland Debt Guide will provide them with a clear starting point on the road to recovery.
“Taking the first step to pick up the phone or go online to get help can often be the hardest but suffering in silence can often make things worse.
“As always, our advice to anyone in financial difficulty would be to get help and get it early.”