Help at hand to find your way out of debt

Most of us have some debt, it’s a part of modern life. For a lot of people this isn’t a problem but for some it can become difficult to repay, causing misery and distress.

The impact of the struggling global economy is featured almost daily across newspapers and television. For the first time many individuals and families are feeling the pressure financially, with increases in food prices, rising utility bills and mortgage and lending uncertainty all adding to the headache.

There are many reasons why people get into debt difficulties. For some people it is triggered by a change in circumstance such as unemployment, illness, a new addition to the family or they have simply borrowed too much. Most people can and want to repay their debt, they just need a bit of help and some extra time.

There is no shame in having debt but it shouldn’t be something that is ignored until it has escalated out of control.

The Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS), backed by the Scottish Government, is in place to help Scots who are finding it increasingly difficult to cope financially.

The scheme freezes all interest, fees and charges so that payments go directly towards paying off the capital that is owed. All debt is consolidated into one manageable monthly payment under the scheme and face to face support is provided by an approved money adviser, who will discuss the best way to help you take control of your debt.

Rosemary Winter-Scott, Chief Executive of the Government Agency responsible for DAS, explains:

“DAS is all about empowering people to face up to their debt before they find themselves looking at an uncertain financial future.

“Approved money advisers can give you advice about the best way to tackle your debt. If you are eligible for DAS then your money adviser will work with you to set up a Debt Payment Programme to be agreed by your creditors. This will allow you to pay back your creditors at a rate you can afford, over a reasonable length of time.

“We know that many people find it difficult to talk about their financial worries but the worst thing you can do is to ignore your debt problems. It’s important not to sit in silence – so find out more about DAS and take control of your debt.”

Case study

Ruth, a 26 year old married mother of one is amongst many people who have found themselves struggling with debt.

While on nine months maternity leave from her hairdressing job Ruth relied heavily on credit cards to subsidise her basic maternity pay. This resulted in her owing £10,000 across three credit cards.

She planned on being able to up the payments when back in employment, but half her income was taken up with childcare costs. A few months into being back at work Ruth found she was struggling to repay her debts, as the interest being added onto her bills was almost cancelling out the minimum payments she was making.

Ruth decided to seek advice from her local Citizen’s Advice Bureau. She talked through her situation with a money adviser and discussed various options to ease her debt problem. Discussions with Ruth lead the money adviser to recommend Ruth enter the Debt Arrangement Scheme.

The money adviser drew up Ruth’s Debt Payment Programme (DPP) proposal based on her monthly surplus income with a total debt figure of £10769.50. Ruth’s DPP would take her 36 monthly instalments of just under £300 to complete and she is set to complete her DPP in three years time.

Both individuals and couples can repay their debt through the Debt Arrangement Scheme but they must meet with a money adviser to discuss if they are eligible.

For more information on DAS visit dasscotland.gov.uk <http://www.dasscotland.gov.uk/> or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.