‘Life-changing’ impact of Citizens Advice revealed as cost of living crisis grows
The ‘life-changing’ work of the Citizens Advice network in Scotland has been outlined by the charity today in a new briefing detailing the value of the service.
The briefing reveals that, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, around 1 in 5 people who have come to the Citizens Advice network in Scotland for help have made some sort of gain. The average financial value of these gains is over £4,400. This includes direct cash in people’s pockets and benefits in kind, like free school uniforms.
This doesn’t include debt advice, which can help people by reducing their repayments, or people who have benefited from understanding and enforcing their rights in a non-financial sense.
The figure is revealed as part of a new briefing published ahead of new council administrations being formed in the coming weeks, and also details that the network is worth £245 million in net benefits to Scottish society.
It also considers the value of the wraparound service CABs provide, with four in ten cases CABs deal with being complex and requiring multiple different types of advice.
As the country faces a cost of living crisis driven by soaring energy prices, the briefing shows how clients needing energy advice frequently need help with debt issues, housing and Universal Credit.
Publishing the briefing, Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Derek Mitchell, said: “As the country faces the worst cost of living crisis in living memory, the Citizens Advice network is here to with free, impartial and confidential advice and information.
“CABs across the country are essential community services, delivering life-changing results for the people they help. The fact that average gains for those who see a financial benefit from our advice is £4,400 is simply staggering.
“People are going to really struggle in the months ahead, and it’s important to understand that the challenges people face will be complex. While the soaring cost of energy is driving this crisis, costs are going up everywhere, and met with flat or falling incomes at the same time, people won’t just need help with one issue but will be dealing with multiple problems.”
He added: “That’s where CABs excel. They are a wraparound service and deal with the person’s full range of issues. They don’t just try and solve one problem and ignore the rest. People can get advice in a way that suits them best – be that in person, over the phone and online.
“Giving people that choice is vital, some people just want a phone number to ring or clear advice to read, but for vulnerable clients and complex cases there’s no substitute for face to face advice.
“These are all local charities, organised to best suit the needs of their local communities. The advice is free, confidential and impartial, and our advisers treat everyone with empathy and understanding. We don’t judge, we just help.”