Banks and the Department of Work and Pensions are driving those with debt into despair, a new survey of Scotland’s Citizens Advice Bureaux has found.
A survey carried out among CAB workers found that 80% of advisers believe banks have an “aggressive attitude” that is making things worse for those who are struggling with debt.
Two-thirds of respondents also said changes to the benefits system are creating difficulties for the sick, disabled and jobless.
Survey responses showed some CAB staff thought the DWP was “way short of the mark” in dealing with inquiries from benefit claimants.
Another response claimed medical assessments were “appalling and inadequate” and resulted in people “losing their benefit unfairly.”
Banks were accused of making “excessive charges targeted against people who can least afford them” and of sometimes having “very aggressive” debt collection teams.
Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Lucy McTernan said, “This survey shows that Scotland’s CAB staff believe the impact of the recession will continue to blight vulnerable people throughout 2011, and that neither the banks nor the government are doing enough to help.
“CAB workers are right at the sharp end of what’s going on in our communities.”
She added, “Last year the Scottish CAB dealt with over half a million new cases that’s one for every five households in Scotland
“They constantly see real people with real problems, so they have a unique insight into the pressures that affect people’s lives, day after day.”
Ms McTernan said that advisers expect concerns about debt and benefits to be the most common reasons people will visit Citizens Advice next year.
She said, “We have argued in the last few years that the pace of the government’s welfare reforms is really hurting the most vulnerable people and we also know that debt has been a growing issue for some time.”