Crisis support calls to Citizens Advice rise over 40% in just one year

Citizens Advice Scotland say those seeking crisis support is up as well as those asking for advice on energy costs.

Crisis support calls to Citizens Advice Scotland rise over 40% in just one year iStock

The number of people seeking advice on financial crisis from Citizens Advice Scotland increased by more than 40% in just one year.

The organisation, known as Cas, supports people struggling on a range of issues, including legal and financial troubles.

The group’s latest analysis recorded an increase of 41% in those seeking advice with 118,384 offers of crisis support in 2022-23 compared to 84,103 in the previous year.

The report, which was released on Monday, showed an increase of 56% in advice on energy costs which rose in the same period from 62,151 to 97,373.

Cas supported a total of 174,500 people last year.

Chief executive Derek Mitchell said: “This analysis for the past year reveals a number of concerning things.

“Higher demand for energy advice has further consequences, with people also seeking support around crisis grants and food insecurity.

“Policymakers should not be fooled into thinking warmer weather and potentially falling bills later this year will mean an end to this crisis.

“The winter has massively reduced people’s financial resilience and we will be living with the legacy of that for some time.

“Meanwhile, some people seeking cost-of-living advice are at risk of being a forgotten population.

“It is absolutely right that policymakers have ensured support for vulnerable groups such as families with children and pensioners, however our data suggest working age, single-person households, those unable to work, and council tenants have sought cost-of-living-related support at a higher level than they seek advice generally.

“These groups appear to be particularly at risk to us.”

The chief executive added that he “welcomes” First Minister Humza Yousaf’s effort to make tackling poverty a priority.

He said: “This is something that requires real urgency as our evidence points towards many people seeing a direct link between higher bills and empty food cupboards.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Tackling poverty and protecting people from impact of the current cost-of-living crisis is one of the Scottish Government’s three critical missions

“That is why the First Minister acted swiftly and decisively to triple the Fuel Insecurity Fund, which continues to be a direct lifeline for many thousands of households, to £30m this year.

“The Scottish Government prioritised urgent cash-first supports this winter including £1.8m for food groups and an additional £2.5m to local authorities to boost the Scottish Welfare Fund.

“Most of the key policy levers needed to address the crisis still lie with the UK Government. We continue to urge them to use all the levers at their disposal to tackle this emergency on the scale required.”

The spokesman added, however, that “only with full powers of independence can we eradicate inequality and poverty”.

A spokesman for the Treasury said: “We recognise the impact that rising prices are having at home, which is why we are providing significant support over this year and next, worth on average £3,300 per household.

“This includes holding down energy bills, uplifting benefits and the state pension in line with inflation and increasing the national living wage, as well as delivering hundreds of pounds in direct cash payments to millions of vulnerable households.

“Tackling inflation is this government’s number one priority, with a plan to halve inflation this year and lay the foundations for the long-term growth that will improve living standards for everyone.”

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