The Social Security Committee launches a study of debt and low income
The Social Security Committee launches a study of debt and low income

The Social Security Committee launches a study of debt and low income

MSPs have been told that debt problems could be exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, with many low-income families struggling to pay rent, municipal taxes and fuel bills.

Holyrood’s Social Security Committee is now seeking views from debt counseling services for its new study on low income and debt.

It follows an informal evidence session towards the end of last year where MSPs heard about the impact of debt.

Elena Whitham MSP, the new convener of the committee, said: “With the cost of living rising sharply, our committee is concerned that the situation will get worse. It is vital that we can make sure that help is available at any time, anywhere and how necessary.

“We would like to hear the views of people and organizations working on debt and money advice, local and national third sector organizations and local authorities.”

The call for evidence is open until March 31st.

The committee is set to hold evidence meetings for the study later this year to discuss rising living costs, debt stigma, psychological consequences and digital exclusion from debt counseling services.

One person who used debt counseling told MSPs during the informal session: “The pandemic has made it much harder to get compassionate people on the phone. You call, explain the situation, review the expense sheets, people answer, ‘well there are a lot of people in your situation due to the pandemic ‘.

“I feel like I’m just a number and it’s very dehumanizing. I’ve gone from looking in to get drop-in advice while I’m in town and being treated like a person to being treated like a statistic. ”

And a debt counselor said, “Many people fall into debt because of changing circumstances, such as a relationship breakdown, death, losing a job or having a child. People do not decide to use, use, use and then be in debt. The idea whether intentional debt is a myth – certainly among the customers I see. ”

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