Sue Peart: Help is available for those facing financial woes

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THIS week saw a flurry of different economic reports, all with the same bleak message: families are really struggling to make ends meet.

It was a picture that advisers here in Penicuik Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) recognise only too well.

The Annual “Cost of a Child” report from LV= showed that the cost of raising a child in Scotland has risen by 3.3 per cent since last year, and that over three quarters of parents have cut back in family spending. Meanwhile Asda’s Income Tracker showed that Scottish families are £15 a week worse off than they were a year ago. Government figures show there were 4664 cases of bankruptcy in Scotland in the last three months (a two per cent increase on the same period last year).

The saddest thing is these figures didn’t come as a surprise. Too many Scots are finding it hard to make ends meet. Rising prices and falling incomes mean that people are struggling to clothe their children, heat their homes and put food on the table. Many are getting into un-manageable debt.

But it’s important to let people know that help is available. The CAB offers free advice on debt, bills, and all other financial issues. Our advisers can help you plan your finances. And if you are in debt we can sometimes negotiate with your creditors to freeze the interest. In other cases we can identify benefits or grants that you didn’t know about. But the important thing is to seek help now. Debt doesn’t go away if you ignore it. It only gets worse.

• Sue Peart is manager of the Penicuik Citizens Advice Bureau. www.cas.org.uk