Scottish Citizens Advice network unlocks £170m for people
A staggering £170 million was unlocked for people in Scotland during 2019/20 thanks to the work of the country’s Citizens Advice network, according to new annual figures show.
A total of 59 Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABs) and associated national services delivered the gains through social security payments, employment entitlements, energy costs and debt reductions among other issues.
The figures mean that for every £1 invested in core advice funding, the network unlocked £16 in client gains.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) hailed the figures as ‘extraordinary’, showing an increase of around £40m compared to 2018/19.
Over 2,300 volunteers contributed almost 750,000 hours of their time in 2019-20. Almost half of CAB volunteers go on to paid work or further education or training.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, Citizens Advice Bureaux adapted quickly to circumstances and remained contactable for advice by phone and email, CABs have also provided face to face advice for vulnerable clients in essential circumstances. Since April CABs have issued 643,000 pieces of advice.
CAS chief executive Derek Mitchell said: “These extraordinary figures are testament to the life changing work CAB staff and volunteers are doing in communities across Scotland every single day.
“We know that too many people face a financial cliff edge, one big unexpected bill away from being in real trouble. CABs make a real and tangible difference to the lives of tens of thousands of people every year.
“Investing in CABs is investing in people. Our advice helps put money into people’s pockets and strengthen local communities.
“What these figures also show is that the Citizens Advice network delivers exceptional value for money. For every £1 invested in core advice funding CABs are returning £16 for people.
“We know there are potentially very tough times ahead, as policy makers face difficult spending decisions while trying to build our economy back better. These figures make clear that the return on investment on advice is good for the economy and good for social justice.
“Since restrictions came into force during COVID-19 our CABs didn’t miss a beat, transitioning to remote working to continue to serve their local communities. Despite these restrictions the network has issued more than 643,000 pieces of advice since March.
“We’ve been helping people for over 80 years, since the Second World War, and we’re here to ensure people get the advice they need during this crisis, and we’ll be there to help afterwards too.”