Worse times to come, says debt advice charity

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The growing number of people with money troubles has forced a debt advice charity to open a new office.

StepChange Debt Charity Scotland said the problem “is going to get worse before it gets better”.

Last year the charity dealt with almost 12,000 people and has doubled its number of debt advisers to 14 to cope with demand.

In the first six weeks of the year calls to the charity’s telephone advice line rose by 41 per cent, from 754 to 1,063, with online advice queries rising 31 per cent, from 756 to 991.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara, who chairs the charity, said: “We’re in a situation where we’re not seeing the worst yet. There’s about 50,000 people in Scotland that need debt advice and support. We’re reaching people who are already in trouble and that’s fantastic, but what about the people who are already on substantial mortgages who have got interest rates of 1 per cent, 1.5 per cent, 2 per cent? When they go up to their natural level of 5 per cent or 6 per cent they aren’t going to be able to cope.

“You’ve got welfare benefit changes to come through, problems about fuel and food prices are going through the roof.

“We are coping at the moment and we’re reaching the people we’re able to but I still think there’s a long way to go. We’ve got to keep an eye on this. This is not a good time.”