More than 160 people went to Clydesdale Citizens Advice Bureau last year for help with debts totalling £1.77 million.
And while that was a lower sum than the £2.8 million of the previous year, the debts tended to be for essentials, food, fuel and rent rather than ‘luxuries’.
Michelle Mair, who has taken over as manager of the Clydesdale bureau, highlighted the change in reasons.
She was previously a debt advisor there, but the bureau in the past saw people who had “maxed out” credit cards on luxuries. “There has been a shift in debt,” she said.
“It is not so much consumer credit any more it is essential living costs. People are struggling to pay their monthly commitments in regards to fuel, rent and council tax. And more and more people in work are seeking debt advice.”
The annual report prepared for the bureau’s AGM reveals that enquiries about benefits and debt issues “dominated” the work of the bureau’s advisors.
In 2014/15 Clydesdale CAB had 2,198 clients, with a total of 4,237 enquiries, and advised them on 10,612 issues.
Almost half the enquiries were about benefits and debts and by carrying out checks and helping clients to challenge benefit decisions, the bureau helped them to get £1.57 million,The bureau was also able to reduce the outstanding debts by over £300,000.
Michelle said; “One of the biggest issues is people just not having enough money to live on benefits – not luxuries, but just the basic day-to-day living can be really tough for some people.”
That included people in work. The biggest fear was the uncertainty over benefits.
Michelle said: “People are scared they are going to lose their benefits and worried about how they are going to manage.”