More than half a million people in Scotland either entered debt during the pandemic or saw their pre-existing debt increase, according to new analysis.
The Citizens Advice Scotland research estimates that 364,004 adults saw their level of debt increase from the start of 2020.
A further 236,602 Scots now have debt despite not having any at the start of the global pandemic that caused lockdowns, restrictions and millions of deaths all over the world.
Meanwhile an estimated 291,000 Scottish adults who aren’t currently in debt feel at risk of it, while another 382,000 do not feel at risk of debt, but said they struggle to make ends meet.
CAS is running Debt Happens, a campaign encouraging people to get advice to deal with debt.
The charity’s financial Health spokesman Myles Fitt said: “Debt shouldn’t be a taboo subject or something people are ashamed to talk about, and these figures show the scale of the problem across Scotland, with hundreds of thousands of people either at risk of debt, entering debt during the pandemic, or seeing their arrears deepen during Covid.
“The key thing we want people to understand is they are not alone.
“These figures show hundreds of thousands of people are in the same boat, and with the cost of living crisis increasing the pressure on household budgets, now is the time to seek advice.
“The Citizens Advice Bureau CAB network can help people through local CABs or our online tools like the public advice site or Money Map.
“Some people will benefit from specialist debt advice which restructures their payments, while others will see benefit from more money in their pockets through help with income maximisation.
“Either way we can help. Our advice is free, confidential and impartial, we’ll never charge people for advice and we never judge about people’s circumstances.”
The poll of 1001 Scottish adults was carried out by YouGov in February and the CAS team carried out calculations to extrapolate the data to the general population.