People battling the cost of living crisis in Perth are making “impossible decisions” to stop paying bills and debt, but still can’t afford food, a charity in the city has warned.
Bosses at Perth Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) say more people than ever are coming to them for help and falling further into debt as they are unable to keep up payments to creditors.
Some families have abandoned all payments, but still can’t afford food and energy bills.
Figures from the money advice charity show a 40% increase in people coming to them for help in the last year.
In April 2,500 people reached out for help, compared to last April, when 1,770 people sought advice.
Half of people coming through the door are using the charity for the first time.
Income does not meet essential costs, let alone cover payments to creditors.
Alastair Hood, money advice lead at Perth CAB, says the mental strain of mounting debts is causing distress.
He said: ‘We are seeing a real difference in the circumstances clients are presenting with.
“People are feeling anxious.
“Clients are already running a tight household budget and have maximised their incomes all they can.
“With the cost of living increases, this still leaves them at the point their income does not meet essential costs, let alone cover payments to their creditors.
“This is resulting in non-payment of commercial debts which is leaving clients more anxious and distressed as they are making impossible decisions about essential costs.”
Alastair says even people working full time are struggling to make ends meet.
“We’re working with a couple with a young child,” he said.
“One of them is working full-time and the other is unable to due to ill health.
“Despite the full-time income they are currently unable to meet all of their financial commitments and have had to abandon payments to their creditors.
“Yet they are still struggling to cover rising household costs such as food, petrol and energy.”
‘Seek help’ says Perth Citizens Advice boss
“This is causing them distress that is heightened by concerns that no future credit will be available and so won’t be able to afford any emergency costs or annual costs such as car maintenance.
“We want to urge anyone who is currently struggling with debt to seek advice from a free, debt advice provider who can go through all your options.”
Jane Adams, chief executive officer at Perth CAB, says many people may be entitled to benefits and other support they are not receiving.
She said: “Our message continues to be that people don’t have to feel alone as costs rise.”
“Our free, confidential and impartial advice unlocked around £4.4 million for people last year through social security payments, employment entitlements, debt reductions and other support.
“We’d like to see policymakers focus on ways to get more money into people’s pockets, but we’re here to help people now so would urge anyone struggling to please get in touch.“