27 April 2017

MSP Backs Call for Continued Support for Debt Arrangement Scheme

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has called on the Scottish Government to ensure it continues to lead the way in fair debt legislation.

His comments come after a report by StepChange Debt Charity published their annual report Scotland in the Red which showed that record numbers of Scottish clients had contacted the charity for help with debts in 2016.

The average debt of people contacting StepChange from Banffshire and Buchan Coast was £13,648.

Meanwhile, the average debt of StepChange clients across all of Scotland was £12,677.

Now Stewart Stevenson MSP has backed calls from StepChange Debt Charity to expand the reach of Scotland’s existing Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) – which freezes interest and charges while someone pays off their debts – better support hard-pressed households who have fallen into financial difficulty.

In 2015, the Scottish Government brought in the Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Act to help financially vulnerable families.

It introduced a suite of measures, including the Minimal Asset Process, which offers debt relief quickly and at less than half the cost of an application for bankruptcy under the previous equivalent scheme for those on low incomes.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I’m very concerned that record numbers are contacting StepChange for debt help. Too many people are borrowing just to get by, struggling to save, working hard and finding it difficult to make ends meet.

“With more people falling into debt, we need to make sure that we do as much as possible at Holyrood to help those who have had a temporary financial setback, like the loss of a job or the death of a family member.

“Some people in Banffshire and Buchan Coast and Scotland already have access to the best protections in the UK, thanks to the Debt Arrangement Scheme – but we can and should go further to help more people.

“Expanding the Debt Arrangement Scheme would give people time to get back on their feet without the worry of their debts spiralling out of control. It would give people the best chance of getting themselves back into a position where they can start making payments on their debts.”

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