The Edinburgh Poverty Network met this week for its monthly collaboration session focussing this time on the topic of problem debt and the work underway to support people who are struggling to get by in Edinburgh.  The network heard from three speakers – Glen Nixon from Advice Direct Scotland, Mark Upward from the City of Edinburgh Council’s Advice Shop, and Benjamin Napier from Citizen’s Advice Edinburgh – who presented a stark picture of the scale of the issue and the depth of debt faced by many advice clients, key types of problem debt, and profiles of the clients who are at highest risk of problem debt in Edinburgh.

Mark Upward Advice Services Manager at City of Edinburgh Council, said “Debt is a big problem for many clients we support. It’s a barrier to people being able to get on in life and causes or exacerbates significant mental health concerns. Our clients present with an average of 3 or more debts totalling around £15,000 which can seem a  mountain to climb, but our expert advisors can help make things better in most instances. The Key message is don’t be afraid to seek help, the earlier the better. Go to Cost of living – The City of Edinburgh Council to find contacts for people who can assist make debt manageable” Mark’s presentation is available to view here.

Advice Direct Scotland are signed up to the Loan Sharks Charter in order to work more closely with other third sector organisations and they also have in-house, a welfare team, energy team, and language line to provide support for those for whom English is not their first language. Here is Glen’s presentation,

Benjamin Napier’s presentation highlights that 90% of their clients have a disability or long-term illness, and 34% are between 45-59 years of age, the highest percentage in the client profile age group.