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Poverty Destroying Lives, Finds Debt Charity

Tuesday May 4 2021

Poverty is destroying lives in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report released by national debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP).

The ‘Our Story’ report shows it would take Scottish client households an average of 43 years to pay off their debts without going through an insolvency process. That’s the longest in the UK and compares to places like the East of England where the average is significantly lower at 20 years.

The average peak debt for a CAP client household in Scotland in 2020 was £19,369 which is higher than the UK average of £17,917.

CAP clients were asked about their lives before they got debt help:

● Over a quarter (28%) considered or attempted suicide before seeking debt help
● Over a third (37%) sacrificed meals because they couldn't afford to eat
● Over half (58%) felt trapped in poverty with nobody to turn to when they had a problem

In Scotland, the average CAP client household income (after housing costs) sits at £11,766, which is less than half of the UK as a whole with the national average sitting at (after housing costs) £24,900. The two main reasons stated for people falling into debt were low income (20%) and mental health (18%).

Council tax continues to be a key area of concern, with 40% of CAP clients in Scotland in arrears compared to 29% in England and just 7% in Northern Ireland.

CAP Scotland’s National Director, Emma Jackson, said: “This report gives just a glimpse of how much the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people’s lives. I believe there are hundreds of thousands more families in debt across Scotland still suffering in silence.”

CAP has a network of 24 Debt Centres which work through local churches to cover places including Inverness, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. They have helped hundreds of clients across Scotland to become debt free despite the pandemic. 

Emma added: “Despite all the challenges of the last year, we want everyone to know there is hope. There are charities out there who can offer free, expert help out of debt. Getting debt help can quickly relieve the pressure, ease the strain on people's mental health and help them get their lives back on track.”

You can contact CAP Scotland through their website or call 0800 328 0006

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