20th December 2023

Money Advice Scotland views the Scottish Budget for 2024-25 with a hopeful perspective. While we applaud positive steps like allocating funds to address school lunch debt, we also envision a future where even more comprehensive measures are embraced to safeguard those facing personal financial challenges.

The noteworthy changes in the 2024-25 Scottish Budget, including the introduction of a new income tax band at 45p for specific earnings and an increase in the top rate of income tax for earnings exceeding £125,140 from 47p to 48p, mark positive strides toward fostering a more progressive tax system in Scotland.

However, we see a missed opportunity for even more significant positive impact through multi-year funding for the debt advice sector, providing stability and continuity in essential services for individuals dealing with personal debt challenges. We know from our Wellbeing Blueprint and Wellbeing Index research that longer-term funding would also lend itself to increasing organisational resilience, job security, and workforce wellbeing which would significantly impact and benefit those working in the sector. With hope for an even brighter future, we encourage the government to reconsider and prioritise sustainable support for services offering free and impartial money and debt advice. Personal debt is a pressing issue affecting countless individuals, and long-term funding is vital to ensure the availability of critical resources for those in need.

We must express our concern regarding the cuts to local government, which face a £150 million reduction compared to the 2023-24 budget as we are concerned about the impact this may have on local authority advice services which we know are stretched beyond their means already. 

The council tax freeze is another area of apprehension, as it may inadvertently encourage local authorities to adopt more stringent debt recovery tactics which we already believe are excessively harsh. A thorough examination of the council tax freeze is essential to prevent disproportionately burdening people already struggling with personal debt and low incomes.

In the spirit of hope for the future, we emphasise the importance of collaborative efforts among political leaders to effectively leverage devolved tax powers and address the complex issue of personal debt. Money Advice Scotland remains steadfast in its dedication to collaborative work with the government and stakeholders, passionately advocating for budget decisions that reflect a foundation of fairness and equality.

We believe in a future where every person experiencing debt and financial challenges is treated with unwavering dignity and compassion, supported by a government that prioritises their wellbeing and actively works to uplift them on their journey to financial resilience.

Stay subscribed to our social channels and posted to our policy blog for updates around budget developments impacting the money and debt advice arena.