People being ‘pushed into debt by Covid restrictions’

Nearly 50% of people run out of money before pay day since coronavirus measures began, according to a poll.

People being ‘pushed into debt by Covid restrictions’ Getty Images

Coronavirus restrictions are forcing people into debt in order to pay their bills, according to a charity.

A poll for Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) found almost half of people have run out of money before pay day since Covid-19 measures began in March.

The YouGov survey polled 1862 Scots between October 19 and November 2.

It found 6% of people always run out of cash before pay day since restrictions, began while 8% fall short most of the time and 15% sometimes.

A further 18% said they rarely run out, giving a combined total of 47%.

Just under half (49%) said they never go into the red.

The poll found people are having to use credit and overdrafts or borrow money to get by.

Almost a fifth (18%) of respondents who had run out of money before pay day said their financial difficulties only began once Covid-19 restrictions came into effect.

A further 12% struggled financially before restrictions, but the problem is now worse.

The research also revealed only 5% of people who were in financial difficulty before restrictions began have seen their circumstances improve.

CAS has now launched an online money map tool to help people who have taken a coronavirus hit to their finances.

It brings together options for how people can improve their incomes and cut their living costs.

CAS financial health spokesperson Myles Fitt said the coronavirus restrictions have been essential to defeat the virus and praised Government help such as the furlough scheme.

But he added: “Given how many people were on a financial verge before the virus struck, living from pay day to pay day and just making enough to cover essential bills, there’s a real risk Covid will push substantial amounts of people into debt and destitution.

“That’s why Citizens Advice Scotland is launching our money map tool, which brings under one roof all the helpful online advice and options that is out there for people who are feeling the squeeze on their finances.

“The tool is for anyone and everyone impacted financially by the virus and it covers a whole range of opportunities to increase income, cut costs and get in control of personal and household finances.

“While we would always encourage policymakers to go further in providing financial support policies, it’s vital that people recognise they have rights and entitlements now, to help them get that extra bit of money that could make all the difference. Our money map helps people do that.”

Communities secretary Aileen Campbell said: “We are aware of the financial impact the coronavirus crisis has had on many families, and are working hard to provide support for those who need it most over the winter.

“We have provided an unprecedented level of support during the pandemic, backed by an initial £350m communities funding package to ensure support for those most in need.

“This includes distributing an additional £22m to local authorities to meet demand for the Scottish Welfare Fund to tackle financial insecurity over the winter months.

“Our Self-Isolation Support Grant also offers £500 to low income workers who are asked to self-isolate and are at risk of losing income as a result.

“To help tackle child poverty we recently launched the Scottish Child Payment fund, which is unique to Scotland, and provides eligible families with children under 16 an extra £10 per week for each child.

“We have also made over £130m available to tackle food insecurity during the pandemic, including over £10m to continue Free School Meal provision during holiday periods right through to Easter.

“We continue to call on the UK Government to reverse welfare cuts which are hitting harder than ever, and to make fundamental alterations to Universal Credit and urge them to maintain the recent £20 increase, which is imperative if we are to stop more people being pushed into poverty.

“Last year we invested £1.96bn to support low income families and we are committed to progressive policies such as free tuition, free prescriptions, fair social security, and increasing free child care hours.”

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