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The latest debt statistics from Scotland: Scotland in the Red 2016

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Personal debt in Scotland. Research from the UK's leading debt charity.

We advised over 1,400 clients per month in 2016. Using this client data, Scotland in the Red highlights the issues and key statistics relating to debt in Scotland. The report gives insight into Scottish debt statistics gaining an insight into trends and the financial difficulties faced by clients north of the border.

Just under 17,000 people contacted us for debt advice in 2016. 8,287 clients called the charity for help while 8,568 used our online help tool, Debt Remedy.

1. Personal debt levels in Scotland are rising

The average debt of clients in Scotland increased in 2016, in a reversal of recent trends. In 2015, average debts were £12,256, but in 2016 that rose to £12,677. This trend was mirrored across the whole of the United Kingdom.

Personal debt levels in Scotland are rising

2. People have less disposable income than 5 years ago

Between 2012 and 2016, the average wages of clients in Scotland increased by 8%, with a sharp jump in 2016. However, because essential living costs have risen faster than income, the average client budget surplus has fallen from £20 in 2012 to just £7 in 2016.

The cost of living is predicted to rise faster than income growth over the next few years, this means that more people are likely to fall into debt.

People have less disposable income than 5 years ago

3. 1 in 4 clients are now behind on their household bills

The proportion of clients with arrears in key household bills - rent, electricity, gas and council tax – has risen from one in five to one in four, while the average arrears on household bills has increased by £398 between 2012 and 2016.

The average amount owed on rent arrears has increased 23% between 2012 and 2016 while the amount owed on electricity and gas arrears has risen by 34% and 31% respectively.

Though the proportion of clients with mortgage arrears has decreased, the average amount of mortgage arrears has increased by 49% in the same period.

1 in 4 clients are now behind on their household bills

4. Council tax arrears are becoming a huge problem

Of all the key household arrears, the greatest problem among council tax paying clients is council tax arrears. In 2012 27% of these clients were in arrears; by 2016 this figure had increased to 40%.

This has happened despite a 10-year freeze on council tax bills in Scotland. The average council tax arrears owed by clients has also increased from £1,338 in 2012 to £1,731 in 2016, an increase of 29%.

Council tax arrears are becoming a huge problem

 

5. More clients are living in rented accommodation than ever before

The proportion of the charity's clients living in rented accommodation has increased from 44% of all clients in 2012 to 56% in 2016. Private rented sector clients now represent almost a quarter of clients, compared with less than a fifth in 2012.

Meanwhile, the proportion of clients with a mortgage has shrunk from 42% to 29% over the same period.

More clients are living in rented accommodation than ever before

Download the Scotland in the Red report for the full picture

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Please note: These contacts are for journalist or media enquiries in Scotland only.

0141 270 1441 Office hours

07876 133461 Outside office hours

 

Our research and reports

As the UK's leading debt charity, we want to make millions more people aware of the help that StepChange Debt Charity offers. Take a look at our research on household and consumer debt for leading insights on problem debt across the UK.

Helping you become debt free...

“I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt.
They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

*This is the average rating of our service based on the StepChange reviews on Feefo by DMP and DRO clients three months into their solution.

© StepChange Debt Charity 2017