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Financial wellbeing in Scotland

Even before the COVID–19 pandemic struck, communities in Scotland faced significant financial wellbeing challenges. Now the situation is even tougher. Scotland partnership manager Kevin Duffy explains why this means financial education and guidance is more critical than ever – not only for your workforce but also for the productivity of your organisation.


The importance of financial education in Scotland

Financial wellbeing (also commonly called‘ financial wellness’) is about feeling secure and in control of your finances, both day to day and when planning for the future. Minimising financial stress has a positive effect on people’s physical and mental health, as well as their work.

Currently, it’s thought that the equivalent of £15 billion of turnover is lost each year by organisations across the UK, due to employees taking days off because of financial stress (Neyber, 2019).

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) is here to help. Organisations in Scotland can connect with me to support the financial wellbeing of their employees, customers and communities. Employers can also signpost to our free, impartial guidance content for workers and customers.

Teaching children and young people about money

Financial education in school and throughout life can play an absolutely vital role for your colleagues, customers and communities’ wellbeing, and helps to enhance your organisation’s objectives such as workforce efficiency and pension scheme uptake.

While 40% of children recall receiving financial education and finding it useful (MaPS, 2020), financial guidance shouldn’t begin and end at school. There is a role for parents and carers – as well as organisations that work with families – to improve children’s financial literacy and understanding, to instill financial wellbeing.

Financial wellbeing statistics in Scotland

Measuring financial wellbeing is not as straightforward as considering one single figure. Instead, to understand Scotland’s general financial wellbeing, we need to look at a collection of different measures and challenges.

For example, the number of people at risk of problem debt, the proportion of people saving, the number of people borrowing to buy necessities, etc.

The following information provides some key indicators of financial wellness in Scotland:

  • 700,000 people in Scotland are at risk of or in problem debt (that is, debt that a person struggles to repay or manage)
  • only 54% of Scottish people save regularly
  • 15% borrow to pay for food or bills
  • the percentage of Scottish people in arrears on Council Tax rose from 36% in 2014 to 46% in 2018. (MaPS, 2020)

Scotland’s population is currently 5.4 million people. It’s estimated that around a fifth (17.3%) are under 16 years old, the majority (65.9%) are between 16 and 64, and the remaining 16.8% are 65 years old and over.

Of these people, 900,000 (17%) live in rural communities and can face unique challenges in accessing digital and physical resources. In turn, this influences the cost of goods and services, and ultimately impacts financial wellbeing. (Rural Scotland: key facts, 2018)

Offer personalised money guidance to your employees using our Money Navigator Tool.

Over the next decade, the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing is aiming to help people gain more confidence to manage their money. The vision is for everyone to make the most of their money and pensions in the short, medium and long term.

Get your copy of the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing.

The impact of COVID–19 on Scotland

Like most nations, Scotland has experienced significant setbacks due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Scottish businesses and workers have been forced to adapt to the ‘new normal’. This means a substantial proportion of people are now working from home, or have been furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Many more have lost their jobs, and 70,000 people in Scotland are on zero-hours contracts (StepChange Debt Charity, 2020). Even among homeworkers, ‘digital exclusion’ means varying access to a comfortable workspace, reliable internet connection and essential hardware like laptops.

People may be feeling increasingly under pressure to cope with their commitments and start looking at cutting costs, whilst also trying to save and build financial resilience. Therefore, we expect to experience a significant spike in demand for money guidance and debt advice in the months and years to come.

How the Money and Pensions Service can help

Want to help your employees, customers and community improve their financial wellbeing, and achieve your organisation’s purpose?

Get in touch with MaPS. We have been set up by the government to offer free, impartial money and pensions guidance.

As well as free, bespoke support, MaPS offers your organization:

  • Money and pensions guidance for your workforce through a variety of channels, such as phone, online and WhatsApp.
  • Cost of living resources including our bill prioritiser tool
  • Redundancy support for those who are at risk or have lost their jobs.
  • Guides, tools and calculators you can signpost on your intranet or website for free, to support your people at every stage of life
  • A selection of money guides in print, Braille and audio formats, free to commercial organisations.
  • Our annual Talk Money Week campaign, which reaches millions of people each November, and provides a platform to have a conversation about money in both home and professional settings.

These are trying times in Scotland and the UK at large, but support is available. If you’re feeling unsure, reach out to MaPS and we’ll offer practical guidance you can use today.

Contact Kevin


Before joining MaPS, Kevin spent 20 years working in banking and banking education for the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Chartered Banker Institute, and he has significant experience of stakeholder management. Kevin lives near Glasgow and enjoys connecting with partners from all sectors across Scotland to deliver our vision. Get in touch for free, bespoke support for your business.

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