Scotland in the Red: our main findings
StepChange Debt Charity Scotland provides clients in Scotland with debt advice and specific solutions under Scottish legislation. We currently receive over a thousand requests for help from clients every month.
The Scotland in the Red report looks at the changing nature of debt problems in Scotland. By analysing our extensive data, based on over 147,000 UK telephone debt advice sessions in 2013 (6,584 in Scotland) and over 96,000 (4,369 in Scotland) in the first half of 2014, we can see some of the key issues that are affecting people with problem debt.
We can also compare debts in Scotland with the other nations of the UK, the eight Scottish Parliament electoral regions, and the 73 Scottish Parliament constituencies.
- The average unsecured debt of StepChange Debt Charity clients in Scotland fell by £1,580 from £13,939 in June 2013 to £12,359 by June 2014. This was the lowest in the UK (average client debt of £12,993)
- The average net income of a StepChange Debt Charity client in Scotland increased by £125 to £14,657 between June 2013 and June 2014, £162 above the UK average client net income of £14,495
- 37 percent of clients in Scotland had Council Tax arrears in 2013. The average amount owed on Council Tax was almost twice the UK average, at £1,366. This has continued to rise to £1,534 in the first six months of 2014
- Over 18 percent of Scottish clients last year had payday loan debt. The Scottish average payday loan debt of £1,457 at the end of 2013 reduced slightly to £1,438 by June 2014, but this is still the largest among the nations of the UK, and £129 more than the UK client average
- StepChange Debt Charity has seen a significant increase in the number of clients with arrears in priority debts; these include rent, mortgage, gas, electricity and Council Tax. In 2013, Scottish clients had the largest amount of gas bill arrears (£539) and in the first six months of 2014, the largest amount of electricity arrears (£616), of all the nations in the UK
There is some good news around debt in Scotland – the average net income of our clients has increased slightly and unsecured debts are falling. Unfortunately, though, the make-up of that debt is changing.
More and more clients are in debt because they are falling behind on essential living costs. So while the amount of debt is smaller, it remains widespread and is increasingly difficult to resolve as it becomes woven into day-to-day living for many people in Scotland.
Download the report now to see our full research and recommendations.