More than 1.4 million Scots run out of money before payday – the date when they received their wages or pension or benefits payments – according to research from Citizens Advice Scotland.
That’s almost a third (32%) of Scotland’s adult population struggling to make ends meet.
The YouGov poll carried out on behalf of the charity also found that 426,000 people, or nearly one in 10 (9%) of those who had run out of money said they had been unable to pay their council tax bills more than six times in the last 12 months.
Citizens Advice Scotland shared the findings of the poll as many household budgets face increased pressure with the end in the £20 uplift to Universal Credit and the increase in the energy cap hiking up fuel prices.
Myles Fitt, the charity’s financial health spokesman, said: “Council tax debt is the biggest debt issue the Citizens Advice network sees, and it’s concerning that so many people are missing payments because they have run out of money.”
He added: “The ending of furlough and other pandemic-related financial support measures will have a significant impact on many, but other emerging cost pressures are creating a perfect financial storm on household budgets this autumn, and there is real concern that more and more people will struggle to meet council tax payments as a result.”
Mr Fitt urged anyone in need of advice regarding money or bills to contact Citizens Advice.
He said: “We have a range of options for people to get advice from their local CAB, our online advice site, or through our online self-help tools for making savings on council tax – www.checkmycounciltax.scot – or more generally by boosting incomes and cutting costs via www.moneymap.scot.”
The poll’s findings come amid warnings that the cost of living is expected to increase substantially across the UK – with council tax may having to rise by up to 5% a year for the next three years.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said that under government spending plans, a rise of at least 3.6% on council tax bills will be needed annually to keep services at pre-pandemic levels.
But extra cost pressures and demand are more likely to see bills rise by up to 5% through to 2024/25.