Emergency laws at Holyrood to help Scots hit by “unsustainable” Coronavirus debts

Emergency laws aimed at saving Scots from falling into bankruptcy as a result of Coronavirus have been lodged at Holyrood.
The emergency laws will be fasttracked through HolyroodThe emergency laws will be fasttracked through Holyrood
The emergency laws will be fasttracked through Holyrood

Thousands of Scots have been left in financial limbo as workplaces around the country have closed and delays persist in accessing Universal Credit and the Government’s Employment Retention Scheme which covers 80% of the wages of workers

The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Bill will raise to £10,000 the minimum debt level that an individual must owe before a creditor can make them bankrupt.

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Other elements of the legislation include a proposed additional £19.2 million investment in Carer’s Allowance Supplement, the introduction of notice to leave periods for students in purpose-built student accommodation and halls of residence, and additional protections for those facing bankruptcy.

Scotland's Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said: “The Bill will help many people facing bankruptcy, adding to emergency measures which the Scottish Parliament has already approved.

“It will also provide Scottish Ministers with the power to introduce reductions in non-domestic rates payable during 2020-2021, and a wide range of changes necessary to support public services to continue to operate as they were intended during what are exceptional circumstances.

“Throughout this crisis we have tried to achieve consensus and will continue to work on a cross-party basis to enable the government to take the steps necessary to help Scotland get through these extraordinary times.”

The bill will also raise the upper threshold for the availability of the minimal asset process (MAP) to £25,000. This means more people who find themselves in debt will be able to avoid a costly and lengthy bankruptcy process.

Previous Coronavirus emergency legislation passed last month at Holyrood gave people six months protection from their creditors while they think through their options, as many find themselves pushed into "unsustainable debt" by the pandemic.

The Bill will face a fasttrack scrutiny process by MSPs this week and be passed in its final form next week at Holyrood.

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