According to the Scotsman, R3 has discovered that a third of people in Scotland would borrow from family to help them manage financially. The proportion of people outside of Scotland is much lower at just one fifth. Fewer people in Scotland would approach their bank for extra funding (25% versus 33% UK average).
In some circumstances this is the case. Restricted lending criteria can make extra borrowing, while already heavily in debt, far harder than it used to be. If the only other real option includes all of the disadvantages of a trust deed, some people are bound to approach family for financial help.
Of course any kind of debt solution should be a treated as a last resort. It may be the case that Scottish families are simply more generous and supportive of their relatives than families elsewhere in the UK. Avoiding the need for Scottish trust deeds thanks to the support of family members certainly makes sense where it can be handled in a way that is affordable and manageable for all involved.
There may be a comparison in this respect between family debts and the types of debt consolidation that used to be so easily obtainable from banks a few years ago. If family can repay all of your debts, and you can afford the agreed repayments to them, there is probably no problem unless circumstances later change. If family pay off some of your debts, but the remaining debt repayments (including the new family debt) isn’t affordable, the overall level of debt is likely to quickly grow again.
The danger is that the overall debt reaches even higher levels, but this time repayments to family (as well as banks and credit card providers) are also jeopardised. This could in itself make life financially difficult for the relative that lent you the money.
The answer is that it isn’t possible to prioritise repayments to family over and above other creditors. You cannot include all of your other creditors in Scottish trust deeds while being given an allowance to carry on fully repaying family debts. Where satisfactory proof of the lending exists, family can be included as creditors in protected trust deeds. The potential for embarrassment and family disputes is obvious.
Borrowing from family may therefore be a legitimate and sensible way to avoid the need for recourse to Scottish trust deeds. However, such borrowing and lending should only take place after a careful affordability and budgeting exercise is conducted first. Where borrowing from family will only delay the inevitable, it may be better to first seek out qualified debt or Scottish trust deeds advice prior to making any family lending or borrowing decisions.