Cost of living crisis Scotland: Holyrood committee launches inquiry to understand problems facing people in debt

A Scottish Parliament committee has launched an inquiry to understand the challenges faced by those in debt as worries about the increased cost of living continue.

The Social Justice and Social Security Committee has launched a call for views from organisations supporting the hard-up.

In November, attendees at a focus group told the MSPs those who were already struggling were more likely to incur debt relating to rent, council tax and fuel.

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In recent months, fears have been raised over the increased cost of living, with inflation rising to 5.2% last year and energy regulator Ofgem announcing the energy price cap will increase by £693.

A Scottish Parliament committee has launched an inquiry to understand the challenges faced by those in debt as worries about the increased cost of living continue (Photo: Ian Rutherford).

The new price cap will take effect in Scotland, England and Wales in April and affect 22 million households.

Committee convener, Elena Whitham, said: “In November 2021, our committee heard heart breaking stories from people who face the daily struggle of living in poverty and debt.

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“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 help is available whenever, wherever and however it is needed.

“We want to hear the views of people and organisations working in debt and money advice, local and national third sector organisations and local authorities.”

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The call for views is due to close on March 31.

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During the focus group, one participant highlighted the difficulty in raising a child while facing financial hardship.

“It is hard bringing up a child on a very low income. How can you give someone the best when you’ve got nothing? I buy fruit and vegetables for my son, but it means that I have to go without,” they said.

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The committee also heard about the impacts of digital exclusion, as well as the stigma faced by people on low incomes.

It comes during a cost of living crisis, with people facing higher taxes and rising costs for food and other items.

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Finance secretary Kate Forbes announced a plan to assist people in Scotland facing cost of living issues.

Forbes promised the Scottish Government will provide £150 to every household in receipt of council tax reduction in all council tax bands and local authorities will be provided with funding to pass on £150 to other occupied households in Bands A to D in Scotland.

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