One-in-five (22%) consumers in Scotland has had an outstanding credit card balance for at least six months, according to a survey by R3 in Scotland, the insolvency trade body.

The research, part of a long-running survey of Britain’s personal finances by R3 and ComRes, also found that, of the 35% of Scottish adults are concerned about their current level of debt, 44% are worried about their credit card debt. Meanwhile, 6% of Scottish adults have had an outstanding credit card balance for five years or more.

R3 in Scotland chair Tim Cooper, a partner at Addleshaw Goddard, said: “With low interest rates, lengthy interest-free periods, and a poor period of real wage growth, credit cards have become a necessary stop-gap for some households. The problem is that credit card debt can be so easy to accumulate. Contactless payments and automatic minimum repayments can make it easy to lose track of spending and the total amount owed.

“When taking on any new debt, including a credit card, it’s important to have a repayment plan. Increasing debt or continually putting off repayments will only make existing financial situations worse. Credit cards aren’t a long-term solution for serious financial difficulties, but some people treat them as such.”

The R3 research also reveals that 20% of Scottish adults say they do not have any savings at the moment, and 7% have borrowed £100 or more from friends or family in the last month. A third (33%) of Scottish adults often or sometimes struggles to payday, of whom 47% cite the cost of food as a reason why they struggle to payday, with 36% citing the costs of household energy (excluding petrol and diesel).

Tim Cooper added: “The recent rise in the Bank of England’s base rate underlines that borrowers can’t assume that the current low interest rates that many enjoy will be around forever. While credit cards can be a quick fix for financial problems, they can store up problems for later. It’s important that anyone worried about their debt, or struggling with their finances, speaks to a qualified and regulated expert about their options.”