CAS warns of ‘debt trap’ across Scotland due to months of unaffordable energy bills
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is warning that months of unaffordable energy bills will lead to a ‘debt trap’ for consumers across Scotland.
The charity has published its latest Cost-of-Living Analysis, finding a clear link between people seeking advice on utilities and needing help with debt.
Around a third of people who sought advice around utilities also need advice on another issue, with a quarter of those people seeking advice on debt.
For non-priority debt advice – issues such as credit cards and loans – people in work make up a larger proportion of demand compared to advice generally.
Ahead of the Energy Price Cap announcement this week, the analysis also shows an overlap between people seeking advice around food insecurity and further advice on utilities.
Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive, Derek Mitchell, said: “It may be the case that the price cap will fall later this year, however from the evidence of our advice data we can see the impact that months of unaffordable bills have had on people. People are facing these challenges now over the summer, and things are likely to get more difficult heading into the winter.
“For many clients, the choice between heating and eating isn’t a cliché, it is the reality of the spending choices they have to make.
“Beyond that immediate crisis support, this cost-of-living crisis is going to leave a legacy of debt. We see an overlap between people seeking advice on energy issues and needing debt advice. What we also see is increasing demand for advice around commercial debt like credit cards and loans from people in work.
“Many people will have turned to debt to cover their essential costs in the past year – food, energy and housing payments, however with interest rates having increased significantly in the past year, new lines of credit for people may be more expensive.”
He added: “That creates a debt trap for people who use credit to cover their essential outgoings, and then see the cost of their outgoings go up due to expensive debt repayments.
“People who are worried about money and bills can seek advice, starting with www.moneymap.scot, which rounds up all your options to boost your income and cut your bills.”