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Scotland in the Red: consumer debt trends across Scotland

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

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.

Our key findings on personal debt in Scotland

The Scotland in the Red report looks at the changing nature of debt problems in Scotland. By analysing our extensive data, based on over 6,758 telephone debt advice sessions Scotland in 2015, we can see some of the key issues that are affecting people with problem debt.

Unsecured debt has fallen

Average unsecured debt has been falling steadily among StepChange Debt Charity clients for the last five years, reflecting the decline in mainstream consumer credit since the financial crisis, and a more responsible approach to lending and borrowing. 

Considerable challenges remain however, not least that many Britons still owe almost as much in unsecured debt as they earn in a year. The average unsecured consumer credit debt of StepChange Debt Charity clients in Scotland was £12,263 in 2015. In comparison, the average net incomeof a StepChange Debt Charity client in Scotland was £14,817 per annum.

There has been a sharp rise in priority arrears

A sharp rise in priority arrears among our clients is alarming. Priority arrears include rent, mortgage, Council Tax, electricity and gas arrears. In every one of these categories we have seen increases in either the value of arrears or the proportion of clients with arrears, and in some cases both have risen.

Council Tax arrears is one such category. The proportion of clients in arrears on their Council Tax has doubled from 18% in 2010 to 36% in 2015, and the average amount owed on Council Tax (£1,615) has increased by 43% since 2010. 

Budgets continued to be squeezed

We're seeing a trend across Scotland of clients’ budgets being squeezed, resulting in less disposable income.  Scottish clients who contacted the charity in 2015 were, on average, committing an additional £66.43 to priority expenditure compared to clients who contacted the charity in 2014. 

The percentage of their income being spent on priority expenditure is also increasing. In 2014, Scottish clients’ percentage of income spent on priority expenditure was 43%. In 2015, that increased to 48%.

Download the report now for the full picture. 

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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.

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“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.

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© StepChange Debt Charity 2018