Enjoy Christmas and avoid Debtmas

Over 17% of Borderers are already in serious debt and as Christmas approaches there are fears that the situation could get worse.

That’s why a local credit union is supporting the Scottish Government’s 12 Days of Debtmas campaign, encouraging residents to go to them instead of payday lenders this Christmas. Local MSP John Lamont is also urging people to seek help with their debts.

The 12 Days of Debtmas campaign highlights the options available through local credit unions - with interest rates of around 28% per annum compared to interest rates in excess of 5000% from high interest payday lenders.

Over 300,000 people in Scotland are using credit unions - co-operatives that are owned and managed by the people who use them - and Capital Credit Union is open to anyone in the Borders, Lothians and Edinburgh. It has 18,000 members and offers a range of ethical savings and loan products to meet the needs of their members.

Marlene Shiels, chief executive at Capital Credit Union, said: “Christmas can be a difficult time and I would urge anyone worried about their finances over the next few weeks to look at their options and consider joining their local credit union. We can help by providing people with ethical financial products that don’t come with extortionate interest rates.

“We also work with each member to ensure they are not borrowing outwith their means to set up sensible repayment options.”

The average debt of charity Step Change’s Borders clients is already over £17,000 and MSP John Lamont wants to ensure people seek help rather than make matters worse.

“The longer you wait to seek help the worse the problem can become, that’s why I’m urging anyone in debt to make the most of the service being offered by groups such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Step Change,” said Mr Lamont.