People in the North-east with money worries urged to access free advice and support

People in Peterhead and the surrounding areas with money worries are being urged to access free help to sort out their finances.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 5:50 am
Households struggling to pay their bills are being urged to seek free advice and help with their finances.

Karen Adam, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, has been discussing with StepChange Debt Charity about the support available to households that have been affected by the economic consequences of the pandemic.

Many households in the area have faced significant financial burdens, through lost pay, workplace closures and increased living costs.

Free advice provider StepChange has warned that the events of the last 18 months have affected high and low earners. Over half of those who approached the charity for help were in work, but still struggling with bills.

More than a third of StepChange clients in Banffshire and Buchan Coast are struggling with Council Tax, on average £1,351 behind on this bill. Challenges are set to increase with the end of the uplift to Universal Credit and the furlough scheme in the coming months.

Ms Adam said: “I know there will be many households that may not be aware of the support from organisations like StepChange and Citizens Advice who can provide independent advice with debt and money difficulties.

“People so often are in difficulty due to circumstances well beyond their control, but despite this there can be stigma and shame associated with debt. Advisors will treat you with dignity, and will not blame or embarrass you.

"The sooner you take that first step of getting free and impartial help, the more options you may have and the sooner you will be able to get relief from all the stress and worry that debt can cause.”

Sharon Bell, head of StepChange Scotland, said it had been a hugely challenging time for many people and that money worries can have a big impact on mental health.

"Keeping a roof over your head and heating your home are basic needs, yet for many families these are constant worries,” she said. “Even where families are not in difficulty, many are balanced on a knife edge, one setback away from problem debt.

"That’s why we urge people to reach out for help, to restore some peace of mind and give you more control of your finances.”

Call the StepChange helpline on 0800 138 1111, or go to www.stepchange.org.