The payday loan noose around Fifers necks ...

Fifers are still struggling with some form of debt
Fifers are still struggling with some form of debt

Kirkcaldy residents are still relying on pay day loans to help them cover the cost of day to day living.

The average outstanding debt locally is £10,898.42 according to figures released by debt charity StepChange Scotland - and that is driving them to shops giving loans at massive rates of interest.

What the Government needs to look at is how we can catch these people before they fall into a spiralling cycle of debt

Sharon Bell, head of StepChange for Scotland

The charity’s ‘Scotland in Red’ report reveals the extent of of the problem across Fife as people continue to struggle.

Payday loans and the arrears that they may incur remain a constant problem.

The average payday loan balance for people in Kirkcaldy last year was £1,869.80 - that’s up more than £365 compared with the previous year.

And with average income for local folk working out at £1,001.67, the sums just don’t add up - leaving them struggling to back the loan and its huge interest.

In order to meet their payments, they would need to borrow a further £868.13, and still have very little left over to cover other living costs.

Sharon Bell, head of StepChange for Scotland, believes that payday loans can lead to severe consequences for people.

She said: “We continue to see worrying levels of payday loan debt which is making a bad situation even worse for a lot of people and leaving them in a really bad state financially.

“Loans with very high interest rates are being used as an emergency safety net and we need to find more sustainable ways to help people cope with their money worries.

“What the Government needs to look at is how we can catch these people before they fall into a spiralling cycle of debt.

“We urge anyone who is relying on this type of credit to get from payday to payday to seek help at the earliest opportunity,” Sharon continued.

Other areas of concern raised in the report include the increasing number of people falling behind on their council tax bills.

Over 57 per cent of StepChange clients have arrears, with a rise of 12 per cent - the highest across central Fife.

More tenants and homeowners are using credit to help cover basic bills leaving them owing thousands in interest and charges.

“Keeping a roof over your head and heating your home are basic needs, yet for too many families in Fife, these are constant worries,” Sharon said.

“We are seeing more of our clients in Kirkcaldy and across Fife struggling to pay essential bills like council tax, rent and gas and electricity bills.

“Seeking the right advice is not only a means of getting finances under control, but could help address causes of anxiety.”