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20/01/14 00:01

Help to tackle debt misery

Campaign to highlight alternative to high interest lenders.

People crippled by Christmas debt are being urged to seek help before they start 2014 in the red, Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing said today.

Timed to coincide with the first pay packet of the year, the Helping Hand with Debt campaign aims to help cash-strapped families who are in financial trouble after overspending at Christmas.

People are being encouraged to consider credit unions as an ethical and affordable alternative to payday loans.

First Minister Alex Salmond announced last year plans to protect consumers, pledging payday lenders would be subject to tougher regulation in an independent Scotland.

Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing said:

“If people are worried about debt after Christmas, they should seek urgent advice because help is at hand

“There are alternative and more affordable solutions to manage your debt this year than payday loans with interest rates of up to 5000%.

“Credit unions can offer sensible, ethical help as well as loans at much more competitive rates with affordable repayments at fairer and more attractive terms.

“There is also other help available to deal with post-Christmas debt and I would urge anyone to contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for free, expert advice.”

Margaret Lynch, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland said:

“This is a very challenging time of year for people, financially; especially for those on low incomes.

“Many people will have spent more than they expected to on Christmas and New Year, and as a result will now be facing the consequences of this, as well as the New Year bills. It’s a tough time, and we tend to find an increase in the numbers of people who come to us around now for financial advice.

“It’s important that people know help is available, and that there is no shame in asking for it. If you are struggling to pay the bills you’re certainly not alone, and the money advisers in your local CAB are trained to help you, with free confidential advice that is tailored uniquely to your circumstances.

“In general though, our main message is to avoid making your situation worse by taking out a payday loan or other high-interest loans and we fully support the Scottish Government’s campaign in raising awareness of alternative sources of finance such as credit unions.”

Frank McKillop, Policy and Relations Manager (Scotland), Association of British Credit Unions Limited said:

"Joining a credit union is a great way for people from all walks of life to get on top of their finances, and we welcome the Scottish Government's call for more people to turn to credit unions.

“Credit unions can help people get out of the habit of using high cost lenders, and into the habit of saving, budgeting and borrowing responsibly."

Notes to editors

The Helping Hand with Debt radio, press and online campaign begins on Monday, January 20. Find out more at www.handwithdebt.com