Coronavirus lockdown restrictions have seen inquiries at an Angus advisory service soar with waiting lists of up to three months for debt cases.
One advisor warned wages arrestment issues are increasing and sheriff’s officers are again knocking on doors.
Angus Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), which has offices in Arbroath, Forfar and Montrose, said cases related to employment between April and August made up 18% of inquiries, reaching a peak of 21% in April.
Between April and August 2019, the figure was just 5%.
The stark statistic was revealed by Angus CAB chief officer, Chris McVey who warned the gradual phasing out of furlough could see a further increase in debt and employment related cases.
He said: “In the past four weeks, debt inquiries were 13% of all advice given, while during the same four weeks last year, it was 7%.
“Each month, between March and July, employment cases overtook debt inquiries – in the past five years I have been here, it is the first time this has happened.”
Mr McVey said 24% of the employment cases related to redundancy or dismissal.
“Debt inquiries are the second highest caseload and we are preparing for more.
“One issue usually sees a knock-on effect in other areas, so someone affected by employment issues can subsequently need advice about debt and housing.”
The demographic of those seeking help has also changed, with the service seeing more clients who are younger, own their home and are in full-time employment.
The majority of the new clients had never accessed CAB services before.
Angus CAB debt specialist Michael Noble said more resources are needed.
“People affected by furlough are now in the position they can’t make their payments and we are seeing more wage arrestment orders, while sheriff’s officers are back calling at people’s homes.
“I’m getting debt cases at the rate of four every day and there is already a backlog – I’ve never seen it like this before, case numbers are starting to soar.”
The organisation also appealed for trustees to join the board and oversee the work of the CAB.
Mr McVey said: “We are looking for three trustees, including a chairperson to come on board.
“This would involve attending four board meetings a year plus an AGM, so the time commitment might only be around eight hours.”
Anyone interested in becoming a trustee should email Mr McVey at Chris.McVey@anguscab.org.uk.
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