Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency and Scottish Labour Deputy Leader, has successfully ensured that those who find themselves in debt and financial difficulty as a result of losing their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic will not have to face unmanageable fees to access debt solutions.
Within Stage 3 of the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Bill, Jackie Baillie put forward amendments which have ensured that those in receipt of a range of benefits, Including ESA, JSA and Universal Credit will be exempt from fees that come with accessing bankruptcy solutions. That would apply to minimal asset process bankruptcies and full administration bankruptcies.
Jackie Baillie has called for more support and protection to be given to those who are no longer able to pay back debts as a result of the current crisis. The fees that are attached to bankruptcy solutions often act as a barrier to access vital services.
The amendments put forward by Jackie Baillie are supported by Citizens Advice Scotland; StepChange, the debt charity; Money Advice Scotland; the Govan Law Centre; and specialist money advisers such as Alan McIntosh.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“We all know that the scale of the economic devastation caused by Covid-19 has yet to be fully appreciated. Thousands of people have already lost their jobs. If it had not been for the job retention scheme, thousands more would have joined them.
“Indeed, last week we heard OVO Energy announce the loss of more than 2,600 jobs, the majority of which are in its customer services division in Scotland, and Rolls Royce announced the loss of 9,000 jobs, many of which are also in Scotland.
“Thousands of people are now out of work and facing financial uncertainty. Regrettably, there will be more to come. We talk about the coronavirus as having caused a health crisis, but it has undoubtedly caused an economic crisis, too.
“I am glad that my amendment to the Coronavirus Bill will mean that those who are struggling will be able to access bankruptcy solutions without having to pay unaffordable fees. We need to see a continued support plan from the Scottish Government for those who have found themselves in financial difficulty as well as a long term recovery plan for our economy as a whole.”