North East residents call for help with highest personal debt in Scotland

Mike Rumbles MSP is calling on the Scottish Government to support hard-pressed households who have fallen into financial difficulty after a study done by StepChange Debt Charity shows that people contacting the charity from the North East are, on average, over £13,700 in debt.

StepChange Debt Charity, the largest provider of free over-the-phone debt advice in the UK, have published their annual report which showed that record numbers of Scottish clients had contacted the charity for help with debts in 2016.


The average debt of StepChange clients across all of Scotland was £12,677. StepChange Debt Charity are calling on the Scottish Government to expand the reach of Scotland’s existing Debt Arrangement Scheme – which freezes interest and charges while someone pays off their debts.


Mr Rumbles said: “Record numbers of people are calling charities for help because the Scottish Government has turned a blind eye to our fragile economy in the North East.


“Things are slowly improving and our local industries have been resilient, no thanks to either of our Governments in Edinburgh or London, but in recent years too many people have been forced to borrow just to make ends meet.


“It is the duty of the Scottish Government do as much as possible to help those who have had a temporary financial setback, like those struggling to find work or suitable accommodation. More needs to be done.


“StepChange want to expand the Debt Arrangement Scheme and this would give people time to get back on their feet without the worry of their debts spiralling out of control.”




Notes to editors:


  1. Find the Annual Report here: Scotland in the Red
  2. The DAS already helps thousands of Scots every year by freezing their interest and charges, and stopping enforcement action by creditors, but some people in temporary financial difficulty are not able to get guaranteed protections.
  3. The average debt of the Parliamentary Regions is listed below:


Parliamentary region

Average debt

North East Scotland


Highlands and Islands


South of Scotland


West of Scotland


Mid Scotland and Fife


Scotland (average)                  


Central Scotland






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