The cost of living crisis has seen calls to an advice helpline surge by 10% – with the charity warning it’s the worst in “living memory”.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said Scots are being hit hard as they grapple with soaring energy bills and food costs.
The latest figures show that in January, Scottish Citizens Advice Bureaux helped 22,345 people by providing more than 93,000 pieces of advice – a 10% increase in client numbers compared to the same month of 2022.
Gas and electricity advice was the main concern in January 2023, with people needing help over 11,700 times.
CAS’s online advice saw the highest number of page views outside of the pandemic, and the third highest number of page views ever in January with 247,594 users.
CAS chief executive Derek Mitchell said: “The worst cost of living crisis in living memory is driving increased demand for advice from CABs, with over 22,000 people getting help in January.
“Combined with record views of our online information pages, it is clear that people in Scotland are feeling the squeeze and are worried about their bills.
“In December energy advice overtook universal credit advice for the first time in our network, and this continued into January.
“Given that social security-related advice has dominated CAB demand since welfare reform in the early 2010s, this is significant.”
CAS said long-term trends point to two concerns around energy.
There has been a drop in people looking for energy efficiency advice due to the pandemic, but an increase in people needing advice regarding their debt to an energy supplier.
Mr Mitchell said: “People are seeking help around debt to their energy supplier more and more, with demand almost three times what it was before the pandemic.
“While that demand grows, online page views around energy efficiency has dropped.
“That may speak to people prioritising essential spending over home improvements, but it is a concern given Scotland’s net-zero aspirations, as well of the resilience of individual households to deal with spikes in energy bills in the future.
“Ultimately the cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use and well-insulated, energy-efficient homes can help deliver that.”
He urged anyone who is worried about bills and money to seek free, impartial and confidential advice from the Citizens Advice network, whether that is from a local office or the charity’s online resources.