CASH-STRESSED townsfolk are being urged not to bottle up festive debt problems by local Citizens Advice staff.
And bureau manager Patricia Buckley is urging those feeling the pinch not to make matters worse by taking out expensive payday loans.
The debt workload of the Towerdykeside branch tops 41 per cent of total cases with the Scottish average at 22 per cent. In October last year the branch took on 41 new debt cases compared to 20 in the same month in 2012.
Mrs Buckley, who has worked for CAB in Hawick for the past 20 years, said: “We never judge people. Circumstances can change and people can often find themselves in a debt situation through no fault of their own. Early prevention is always better than a late cure and I would urge anyone facing financial problems to make an appointment.”
The CAB can offer tips to avoid debt as well as general financial advice and can often point clients in the direction of benefits many don’t know about.
Mrs Buckley added: “If people come to us armed with all of their relevant information it can often take less than five minutes to see if they are entitled to a benefit and to offer advice about making a claim.
“We do understand that this is not an easy time of the year. If people are struggling financially our money advisers are experts at helping people get to grips with debts and other financial problems.”
CAB is also urging against expensive payday loans which can have interest rates as high as 5,853 per cent.
Payday lenders can resort to continuous payment authorities to take money from bank accounts but according to CAB “you have the right to stop this happening”.
The Roxburgh and Berwickshire CAB dealt with 6,832 debt cases last year, helped 4,932 people with benefits-related issues and 1,258 clients were advised on employment matters.
Hawick CAB offers free and confidential advice and can be contacted on 370119.