Funding to help Scots tackle debt

Cash totalling £7 million from the Scottish Government and the Money Advice Service will be made available over the next three years to help Scots combat the ongoing effects of the economic downturn.

Grant funding of £4.8 million from the Scottish Government and £2.2 million from the Money Advice Service will go towards a jointly funded programme which will be managed by the Scottish Legal Aid Board to help Scots resolve their legal and financial problems.

The cash boost from the Scottish Government and the Money Advice Service, which helps people across the UK manage their money better, will enable the Scottish Legal Aid Board, initially, to extend existing projects which over the last three years have supported people facing problems associated with the economic downturn. From October 2012 the Board will use the funding to establish a new programme of support for people across Scotland.

Additionally, the Money Advice Service will provide £500,000 of financial support to projects run in partnership with the Improvement Service, Accountant in Bankruptcy and Money Advice Scotland.

The establishment of the grants programme is consistent with aims of the Making Justice Work Programme, which has been established by the Scottish Government to provide an outcome-focussed programme of work to advance the wider interests of the justice system and system users, through partnership working.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, said:

“This is an important agreement that underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment through the Making Justice Work programme to ensure that people get the help they need to deal with problems such as multiple debts, repossession and eviction.

“We have all been affected in some way by the economic downturn – some more so than others. By ensuring support is in place for people across Scotland who are facing financial and other challenges, those who find themselves in difficulty can rest assured that this Government is doing all it can to assist them in these tough financial times.”

Lindsay Montgomery, Chief Executive of the Scottish Legal Aid Board, said:

“We are delighted to have been asked to manage this significant and expanded partnership grants programme. We very much welcome this substantial amount of financial support from both the Scottish Government and Money Advice Service. This will enable us not only to build upon the previous success of our existing programme in providing legal help to people facing the impacts of the downturn, but will also help to establish a new programme to improve upon the existing support for people across Scotland who require this type of legal assistance.”

Gerard Lemos, Chair of the Money Advice Service said:

“The Money Advice Service takes responsibility for co-ordinating personal debt advice services across the UK from 1 April 2012. As part of this approach, we are pleased to be able to provide additional funding to the Scottish Legal Aid Board to contribute to the funding of new projects that will help more people across Scotland who are encountering debt problems.”

The Scottish Legal Aid Board was set up in 1987 to manage legal aid in Scotland. It is a non-departmental public body responsible to the Scottish Government. The Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 made provision for the Board to pay for advice work through grant funding.