Hundreds of thousands of adults in Scotland expect to enter debt or their existing debt to get worse during the cost-of-living crisis, new research suggest.
Citizens Advice Scotland analysed polling by YouGov, which found that 10% – equivalent to an estimated 460,000 people in Scotland – expected to go into debt.
Around 14%, equivalent to around 644,000 of the entire Scottish population, also anticipated an increase in their existing debt.
It comes as the charity launches its campaign Debt Happens to encourage people worried about finance to seek advice from the service.
The charity recently helped a mother who was served a Calling Up Notice after struggling to pay her mortgage payments following the unexpected death of her husband.
The woman also owed over £28,000 in debt which included overdrawn bank accounts, credit cards and loans.
The service gave her full income maximisation advice to reduce her expenditure and helped her sign up to a Debt Arrangement Scheme.
In another case, a single father of two sought help after increased mortgage payments and the cost of living led to arrears accruing with a secure loan obtained in 2022.
He obtained a loan to release funds from his home and had borrowed over £28,000 to pay off debts and improve the property with a new boiler. His income then dropped and variable rate mortgage increased.
He is paying around £1,100 a month on his mortgage, secure loan and council tax debt as as a bank overdraft, credit cards and a personal loan.
The CAB gave him an income maximisation check and referred him for energy saving advice. He is now able to repay his debts and is applying for a saw him pursue a Mortgage to Shared Equity Scheme to help reduce their ongoing costs.
CAS financial health spokesperson Myles Fitt said: “We have seen the worst cost-of-living crisis in living memory with soaring energy bills, prices rising in the shops with inflation and higher interest rates.
“As a result of that lots of people will have had no choice but to go into debt to deal pay for every day essentials.
“That is nothing to be ashamed, there shouldn’t be a stigma attached to debt, but if you are worried about money then seek advice from the Citizens Advice network as soon as possible.
“The network can provide specialist debt advice which can perhaps restructure or reduce your repayments, and advisers can also look at ways to maximise your income.
“It is easy to be cynical and think there is no help out there for you, but one in six people who sought advice last year from the Citizens Advice network saw a financial gain, the average value of which was over £4,200.
“The most important thing is to not put things off, and let money and debt worries build up until they are overwhelming. Our advice is free, impartial and confidential.
“We never charge anyone for advice and we are for everyone, whether you are in work or not. Debt happens, but the Citizens Advice network can help you through it.”