DEBT: LABOUR SECURES SPACE FOR PEOPLE TOO POOR TO PAY

Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie – fighting for a break for people in debt.

By Bill Heaney

New statistics have revealed that Scottish Labour campaigning has provided breathing space for people in debt, the party’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie has said.

Statistics published last week stated that, as of 31 October 2020, 799 applications to put debts on hold – officially debt moratoria – had been granted under new powers.

In addition, for the period between 27 May and 31 October 2020, there were 1,095 new applications for bankruptcy which benefited from the reduced application fee – 868 (79.3 per cent) of which paid no application fee at all.

Scottish Labour successfully argued for additional fees to be waived for people in debt during the pandemic, although this appeared not to be the case at SNP-run West Dunbartonshire Council where recent inquiries revealed they were still using the services of Sheriff Officers to recover money from struggling council taxpayers.

One in four Scots report that they would struggle to cope financially for over a month if they lost their main source of income.

Scottish Labour is today calling on the SNP government to extend its support for people in debt by offering extra resources to frontline debt advisers and extending the bankruptcy provisions beyond the emergency legislation.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “It is very encouraging to see that those who are struggling with personal debt during this crisis are in some cases receiving additional support.

“With the pandemic still raging and Scotland’s economy under significant strain, it is vital that the Scottish Government is prepared to support individuals and families struggling with debt. 

“We all know the toll that the lockdown has taken on our mental health, but for those struggling with debt the stress and anxiety is immense.

“The Scottish Government should go further by extending the bankruptcy provisions in the bill and providing additional resources to front line debt advisers.

“We must ensure that the Scottish Government is willing to provide them with the breathing space that they need to get back on their feet for as long as they need it.”

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