Almost 300,000 Scots have been left unable to pay their rent or mortgage after running out of cash – with advisers warning the situation could get worse as the UK Government prepares to end the coronavirus furlough scheme and cut £20 a week from Universal Credit.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) fears struggling households are facing a “perfect storm”, with energy bills set to rise when the price cap increases at the start of October.
Just a few days later, the temporary uplift to Universal Credit, introduced in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, is to cease while the job retention support scheme is due to close at the end of September.
The advice agency warned Scots were “facing increasingly difficult choices” as it revealed that 21% of people surveyed had been unable to pay housing bills after running out of money.
Of those questioned, 13% said this had happened to them “once or twice”, while 4% admitted being in this situation three to six times, with a further 4% not able to cover their rent or mortgage costs on more than six occasions.
In total 298,200 Scots have had this problem, CAS calculated.
The YouGov survey also found almost a third (32%) of people had run out of money before pay day, with this equating to 1.42 million adults across Scotland.
Nina Ballantyne, CAS social justice spokeswoman, said: “People across the country are facing increasingly difficult choices when it comes to bills as a result of squeezed or cut incomes.
“This issue will only get worse if the end of furlough leads to a large spike in unemployment and Universal Credit is cut by £20 per week.”
She said housing was one of the main issues experts at the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) helped with, adding: “It’s hugely worry that people have had to miss housing payments as a result of a lack of money.”
Ms Ballantyne urged people: “If you are struggling and need advice during these uncertain times, the CAB network can help.
“People can get advice to boost their incomes or cut their costs from their local CAB, our pubic advice site our or money map tool, and people can find out more at www.cas.org.uk/our-advice-adds-up. “