Two In five worried about income as bills rise

11th November 2020

Almost two in five people in Scotland are concerned about their income during the Covid-19 pandemic, research for Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has found. The research, carried out by the Diffley Partnership, found 39 per cent of people concerned about their income during coronavirus.

The research concludes seven months of tracking attitudes by CAS and the Diffley Partnership, and shows concerns around incomes have remained high and relatively static throughout the pandemic.

It is also revealed that while worries over expenditure dropped after the initial stages of lockdown, the latest figures show these worries are on the rise. CAS are warning that there must be no complacency from policymakers around supporting incomes and easing living costs and welcomed the move from the Chancellor to extend the furlough scheme.

CAS Financial Health spokesperson Myles Fitt said “It’s massively concerning that almost 2 in 5 people are worried about income a during the pandemic, it underlines yet again that this public health crisis is also an economic crisis that is hitting household budgets across the country.”

“Looking back at the seven months of tracking, we can take some heart that the initial levels of concern that were very high in each area have fallen, that suggest the fast action taken by policymakers, such as the furlough scheme, boosting Universal Credit, increasing the Scottish Welfare Fund and things like mortgage holidays have had an impact. However, the concern around income has remained high and we’re beginning to see concerns around bills increase.”

“This is not the time for policy makers to be complacent, particularly with energy bills being the next problem as we head into winter, so we welcome the extension of the furlough scheme by the UK Government along with other payment support measures announced by the Financial Conduct Authority.”

“It is important for people to talk about any money worries they have, and the CAB network is here to listen and to help. In Talk Money Week, local Citizens Advice Bureau across Scotland stand ready to offer advice on managing money, paying bills and avoiding getting into debt.”

Mark Diffley, Founder and Director of Diffley Partnership, which carried out the research, said “Our polling with Citizens Advice Scotland has tracked the financial experiences of people since the Covid-19 pandemic struck in March.”

“While we have observed some decline since the beginning of the pandemic, it is clear that a significant number of people continue to face significant financial difficulties; this includes four in ten Scots (39 per cent) who are concerned about their income, while around a quarter are concerned specifically about being able to pay utility bills, rent and for food and essentials (27 per cent, 25 per cent and 23 per cent respectively).”

“We have observed throughout these waves of research, such financial concern is not spread equally the population. Of particular note, those in less affluent social class groups are clearly more likely to be experiencing financial difficulties, for example 48% of those in social class groups C2,D and E are concerned about their income, a difference which is repeated across all issues in the survey.”

“As the virus continues to cause significant impact on the economy, so these findings are likely to continue, causing significant challenges for policymakers.”

Main research findings:

  • 27 per cent of people concerned about utility bills
  • 24 per cent concerned about council tax payments
  • 25 per cent concerned about rent and 26 per cent concerned about mortgage repayments
  • 23 per cent concerned about paying for food an essentials
  • 32 per cent concerned about debt repayments