A REPORT produced by a Scottish debt charity has highlighted the extent of the debt burden in Scottish Borders constituencies.

In its report Scotland in the Red, StepChange Debt Charity Scotland outlines the financial situation of Borderers who have sought their assistance with managing debts.

The report draws on data from telephone debt advice sessions with clients of the charity.

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire residents utilising the charity’s services had an average unsecured debt balance, whereby the debt is not secured against an underlying asset, of £12,224.

The average Council Tax arrears for clients in the constituency was £1,643, up from £618 in 2015.

Clients in the Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale constituency had an average unsecured debt balance of £13,780 and average Council Tax arrears of £932, down from £2,119 in 2015.

StepChange Debt Charity Scotland provides advice to help people repay debts and campaigns for changes to public policy that will prevent problem debt and improve the situation of those affected.

The charity was contacted by over 30,000 seeking help with their debts last year.

The Head of StepChange Debt Charity Scotland, Sharon Bell, is particularly troubled by mounting Council Tax debts. She said: “I am increasingly alarmed by the increases in the proportion of our clients who are struggling with household bills, particularly Council Tax.

“Our research shows that our clients in Scotland are significantly more likely to have Council Tax arrears compared to elsewhere in the UK.

“We are seeing a record level of demand for help with problem debt with over a third of our clients having an additional vulnerability, such as illness.

“We need more signposting to free debt advice, as the earlier someone gets debt advice the greater their options may be and the less harm they could experience.”