Scottish Liberal Democrat research, obtained through StepChange Debt Charity, has shown that Edinburgh Western residents are racking up large payday loans with an average of £1817 per client. This is significantly higher than the Scottish average.
Sharon Bell, Head of StepChange Debt Charity Scotland said:
"I am concerned at the increase in the average amount our clients owe on payday loans in Edinburgh Western, which increased last year to £1,817, a jump of over £400 in the space of just one year from 2017-2018.”
"We are seeing a record level of need for help with problem debt with over a third of our clients having an additional vulnerability, such as illness or cut in income. We need more signposting to free debt advice, as the earlier someone gets debt advice the greater their options may be and the less harm they could experience. I encourage anyone struggling with debt to contact a free advice provider."
Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton reacted by saying:
“We’ve seen a worrying rise in Scotland of people turning to StepChange, and other debt charities, as they are in debt to payday lenders and short-term high cost credit providers. For some who don’t have a suitable credit score or bank account, payday loans are their only option.
“With the rollout of universal credit, cuts to incomes, unjust disability assessments and a minimum wage below the real living wage, I would encourage Edinburgh Western residents to contact Citizens Advice and Rights, Granton Information Centre, Muirhouse’s LIFT and other organisations who can provide advice and services tailored to individual needs.
“The shambolic situation down in Westminster, where the Tory’s seek to reduce welfare payments at every opportunity, means it’s even more important that the Scottish Government acts. These huge rises in loans and debt across the country must be taken into account, and hopefully mitigated, during the process of creating Scotland’s social security system.”