The Scottish Government must expand on its support for people in debt by freezing interest payments, fees and charges when they are seeking help to deal with their debt for the duration of the pandemic, Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie has said.
Personal debt levels are predicted to increase exponentially during the pandemic due to increased job losses and furloughing of workers.
As part of the first Coronavirus Scotland Act 2020, the Scottish Government extended statutory moratoriums for those in debt from 6 weeks to 6 months allowing time for people to deal with their debts. A statutory moratorium is a legal device which protects a person from demands from their creditors.
While this move is welcome, providing an extension to statutory moratoriums without freezing charges, interest and fees will only lead to greater levels of debt being accrued.
In an amendment to the Scottish Government’s proposed emergency legislation, Jackie Baillie is calling for a freeze on interest, fees and charges to give those in financial trouble the helping hand they need to sort out their debt.
Commenting, Scottish Labour Deputy Leader and Finance Spokesperson Jackie Baillie said:
“All across the country, individuals and families are under incredible levels of anxiety and stress as incomes plummet and debt continues to accrue.
“The Scottish Government has already signalled its intention to help those in debt, but it has not gone far enough.
“It’s time to freeze interest, fees and charges for those seeking help to repay their debt and provide those who are struggling financially with the helping hand they need in this trying time.”