Scotland could be facing a “personal debt time bomb” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).
In a Scotpulse survey of 1135 people across Scotland, results showed 27% were concerned about making debt repayments during the coronavirus crisis.
CAS warned as the furlough scheme is reduced, debt payment holidays end, and job losses become more significant, it could cause a large increase in the number of people being unable to manage their debts.
The charity’s financial health spokesman Myles Fitt said while support schemes during the lockdown have been welcome, managing the situation as these begin to lift will “require thoughtful and significant intervention”.
He added: “The issue is most often a result of insecure or low incomes which are simply not able to keep pace with the cost of living.
“While concerns about unemployment have understandably replaced it for the time being, the issue of personal debt will become a real challenge in the coming months and years.
“An income shock from a job loss or reduced pay, combined with the cost of arrears such as council tax, housing or energy bulls built up due to Covid-19 payment holidays, will put individual and household finances under extreme pressure.
“Our fear is that many households will fall into unmanageable debt, causing financial hardship and pushing more people into poverty, or exacerbate existing poverty.”
Mark Diffley, who conducted the poll, said: “Overall, a quarter of Scots remain concerned about paying utility bills and paying their rent (24% and 26% respectively), while 20% are concerned about paying for food and essentials and 35% about their income.
“Of additional concern is the finding that, once again, it is apparent that the highest levels of concern are recorded from those in the poorest socio-economic groups who are least likely be able to bear the financial burdens which they are facing as a result of the virus.”