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Raw Deal: Don’t put off getting free help to manage your debt

© Shutterstock / eldar nurkovicThe pandemic has left many shoppers with empty wallets, struggling to afford essentials but charities say help is at hand
The pandemic has left many shoppers with empty wallets, struggling to afford essentials but charities say help is at hand

More than two in five Scots in debt say Covid makes it harder to talk about their money problems, while even more are unsure where they can access free help, a new poll has found.

Of people surveyed, 45% were unaware where they could get free help. And of those worried about their personal finances, 43% said Covid had made it harder to talk about their financial worries with loved ones.

The poll was carried out by Savanta ComRes and commissioned by national debt charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP). Its work is community-based with 23 different centres across Scotland offering practical and emotional support. Since the pandemic hit, CAP has also been providing emergency help.

Emma Jackson, CAP Scotland director, said: “It is nearly a year since the pandemic started and we have all been impacted, whether socially, physically or financially.

“Many Scottish households, who have previously been managing, are now facing much tougher times as incomes are lost or lowered dramatically.

“We want to say to everyone that if you are struggling with debt – do not suffer in silence. Problem debt can be scary and isolating, but please don’t be afraid to reach out for help.”

When not addressed, problem debt can quickly become unmanageable and overwhelming. CAP, StepChange and Citizens Advice Scotland together are urging people to seek free-of-charge help.

A StepChange charity report in June last year showed that 28% of UK adults – approximately 14 million people – had been left struggling financially by the pandemic.

Sharon Bell, head of StepChange Scotland, said: “The severe financial impacts over the past year are heavy blows to sustain for households that are already vulnerable and struggling to make ends meet. But there is free help and support out there.

“There are many different debt solutions, and it’s important to get impartial, free advice on the best way forward.”