Against a backdrop of continuing high rates of personal debt, debt advice company TC Debt Solutions of Dunfermline is urging the Scottish Government to help to drive down personal debt in Scotland. The firm is calling for more extensive promotion of the Scottish Government’s own Debt Arrangement Scheme Scotland (DAS), which is available to all individuals resident in Scotland and is protected by statute.
According to a recent survey by the TUC, household debt in the UK is now at a record high of £15,385 per household – a figure that excludes mortgage debts, but includes consumer debt items such as credit cards, bank overdrafts, payday loans and store cards.
The scheme, which is unique to Scotland, was set up back in 2004, but uptake remains relatively low; there are currently just over 12,000 live DAS cases across the whole of the country.
DAS has a range of considerable benefits for people who have an income, but who are dealing with persistent debts and high-interest charges. It is can be the most effective way of dealing with debt while safeguarding a debtor’s assets. It is accessed through an approved money adviser who deals directly with creditors to set up a debt payment programme (DPP).
Critically, interest payments are frozen so that people can pay back their debts rather than interest, which is written off provided the person sticks to the debt payment programme (DPP).
The DPP protects people from their creditors and allows them to make repayments on the debt owed; the debt is paid back in suitable instalments, after all living expenses have been taken into account. The scheme, which is legally binding, protects an individual’s assets and stops debt recovery action by any creditors.
Speaking of the Debt Arrangement Scheme Scotland, TC Debt Solutions partner Richard Gardiner said:
"The Debt Arrangement Scheme Scotland offers individuals and families across the country a planned and sustainable way out of debt – but a lot of people don’t even know it exists. It is all dealt with by a DAS-approved money adviser who agrees terms with creditors and draws up an affordable payment programme, which is then run on behalf of the debtor.
The repayment term can be anything up to 10 years (sometimes longer) and repayments are on the debt itself. Interest is written off as long as the agreed single payment is made each month. This payment is then distributed on the debtor’s behalf.”
Richard Gardiner continued:
"There is a real chance here to make a positive impact on reducing debt across Scotland and improving the life chances of so many people in the process. This is why we are calling on the Scottish Government to promote the Debt Arrangement Scheme much more widely.
Being in a DAS means more than just settling your debts in an affordable way and over time: it also removes some of the stresses that come with trying to service unaffordable debts with high interest rates, and opens up more possibilities by helping to set a clear budget to hopefully avoid the risk of getting into financial difficulties again."
According to the recent TUC survey, unsecured debt as a share of household income is also at an all-time high (30.4%). This has been driven by wage stagnation and changes to people’s contracts of employment such as the introduction of zero-hours contracts for so many jobs. The DAS route can be a highly effective way for individuals to pay back their debt and move on with their life.
You can read the full story as featured in The Scotsman here.