Household budgets 'being crushed' amid soaring demand for debt advice

Citizens Advice Scotland said online demand had surged by 25% for support with money and debt worries.

Citizens Advice Scotland say demand for money and debt advice rises by 25% in past year amid rising prices iStock

An advice service has said Scots budgets are being ‘crushed’ as demand for money and debt help surged by a quarter amid spiralling costs.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said online demand for debt and money help was 25% higher in February than in the same month last year.

As energy bills remained stubbornly high, the charity also issued help on gas and electricity 12,386 times in February.

David Hilferty, social justice spokesman at CAS, said it was a “historic moment” when demand for energy advice overtook that for universal credit in December, and it has remained the most asked about subject for a third month in a row.

He said: “There’s concern this could be the new normal.

The charity issued energy advice more than 12,000 times in FebruaryiStock

“The cost of living crisis isn’t so much squeezing household budgets as crushing them, and this is reflected in increased demand for online advice and information around money and debt.”

He said it is welcome to see the energy price guarantee continue – which sees the UK Government set a cap on what consumers pay for each unit of electricity and gas – but he warned many people will still see their bills climb because a scheme which provided £400 towards energy costs has ended.

Mr Hilferty added: “With inflation still high and incomes remaining sluggish, there is a real risk people are going to end up in debt because they can’t keep up with everyday essential spending.

“What is vital is people who are worried about money and bills seek advice as soon as possible.

“The [Citizens Advice Bureau] network offers free, impartial and confidential advice for everyone, whether they are in work or not.”