Unemployment, debt and benefits - help is on hand

YOUNG people in Berwickshire, along with others their age right across Scotland are suffering the effects of the recession more than any other section of society.

A new report by Citizens Advice Scotland, based on the findings of a survey of 16-25 year olds revealed just how bad things are for many in that age group.

Unemployment, debt, homelessness and benefits are the main issues that are bringing young people to ask for help from Citizens Advice Bureaux across the country and here in Berwickshire the CAB has a dedicated youth adviser whose post is funded by the charity Fairer Scotland.

If you need advice and support on such issues as benefits, housing, relationships, debt and consumer issues then call 07508 331 513 or pop into one of their drop in surgeries listed below:

Eyemouth Community Centre - Monday 12-3pm, Wednesday 10am-1pm and Friday 9.30am-12.30pm;

Chirnside Community Centre - Monday 11.30am-1pm;

Duns Community Centre - Tuesday 12-3pm, Wednesday 10am-1pm and Thursday 10am-1pm.

Still in education? Then watch your notice boards for the dates and times the Berwickshire youth adviser is in Eyemouth High School, Berwickshire High School and Borders College.

One of the key points of the Citizens Advice survey of young people show that the unemployment rate for young Scots is 20 per cent - more than three times the rate among older workers. The situation is highlighted by the fact that the number of 18-24 year olds claiming Job Seekers Allowance increased by 79 per cent in the three years after August 2007.

Over the past three years the number of young Scots claiming benefts increased by 25 per cent and there are now around 13 per cent of young people in Scotland claiming beneft. However, the benefits paid out to them are significantly less than those paid to an older person in a similar position.

Homelessness is also an increasing problem for many young people - a third of homeless applications made in Scotland are made by single people under 25.

However, debt is one of the most common problems brought to Scottish CAB advisers by people of all ages and youngsters are no different.

Berwickshire CAB deals with hundreds of cases of debt each year, and last year the 371 cases brought to them totalled over £1 million and the situation continues to worsen.

Berwickshire CAB manager Rhona Calder said: “We’ve been seeing a steady rise in debt cases over the last few years, as people struggle to cope with falling incomes and rising prices.

“The best advice we can give people is to avoid getting into debt in the first place. That may sound obvious but we urge everyone to budget very carefully and be aware of what they are spending.

“Getting into debt is a vicious circle, and many of the debt clients we see tell us they started off with just a small debt but it spiralled out of control.

“If you are already in debt, don’t despair - there is help available. You have to face up to the problem, and we know that is difficult. But our expert advisers can help you, and our help is free, confidential and completely impartial.

“Every case is unique and requires unique solutions. But no matter how bad your debt is, there is always some route that you can take, and we will help you do that.”

Aware of the level of despair and anger amongst young people about the situation they have found themselves in, the Citizens Advice Scotland’s chief executive, added: “The CAB movements is listening to young people living in Scotland and wants to help them. Every local CAB is equipped to give free, confidential and impartial advice on all of these problems.”