Citizens Advice Scotland launches personalised financial health checks
At least 15,000 households each year are expected to benefit from the new Financial Health Check service which has been launched by Citizens Advice Scotland.
Backed by £3.3 million in Scottish Government funding over the next two years, the initiative aims to help Scots see if they are eligible for additional support that they may not know about.
Low income families and older people will be able to access personalised advice on money matters, from reducing household energy costs to accessing grants such as the Best Start Grant and the School Clothing Grant. This will help people avoid the “poverty premium” of paying more for essential goods and services.
This new service, which is one of the commitments outlined in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, will be initially available through a freephone telephone number 0800 085 7145 but Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) across Scotland will also be offering a face-to-face version by January 2019.
The financial health check involves a short confidential interview with a CAB adviser and is available free to anyone who asks for it, or any CAB client whose adviser feels might benefit from it.
Communities secretary Aileen Campbell said: “I am delighted that from today our new Financial Health Check service is now open for business. This is a key part of our work to tackle child poverty and we want to make sure that families on low incomes have the support they need to make the most of their financial situation to avoid paying the higher costs for basic goods and services that low income families can often face. It is this poverty premium we want to tackle as well as ensuring that households are maximising their incomes.
“The health check will cover issues such as access to free school meals, benefit uptake, council tax reduction and cheaper deals on energy and other utilities to reduce household costs. I am delighted that from today, those families, and older people, will be able to get the personalised advice they need to save money and to receive all the support that is available. Importantly people will be able to access this new service in the best and most convenient way for them through the Citizens Advice Bureaux right across the country.”
Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive, Derek Mitchell, added: “Research has shown that around half a million Scots are not claiming all the support they are entitled to. That means families are struggling to heat their homes or put food on the table while missing out on financial assistance that could make a crucial difference. This service is all about identifying those people and linking them up with the grants, benefits or support that they need.
“The CAB service already does work every day to help people who are struggling, but it is an ongoing battle to make sure we are reaching all the people who need this support, so the funding we have received for this new service is extremely welcome and will allow us to offer this crucial help to thousands more people who could benefit from it.”