Four-fold increase in Scots seeking help over employment

In April, 16% of advice Citizens Advice Scotland issued concerned employment – an increase from 4% in February.

The number of Scots being helped with employment issues has quadrupled in just two months in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).

In April, 16% of advice the charity issued concerned employment – an increase from 4% in February.

The figures were revealed in a new report detailing the impact of the virus on Scotland’s 59 Citizens Advice Bureaux – which are providing both online and telephone advice services.

Citizens Advice Scotland said the “continued rise in advice given on employment issues suggests ongoing uncertainty around workers’ rights and entitlements, despite the significant and unprecedented levels of support announced by the government so far”.

A total of 72,454 pieces of advice were issued in April, with 12,232 of these relating to debts, while 2338 were about foodbanks.

Meanwhile, there was an increase in Scots seeking help regarding the crisis grants handed out by the Scottish Welfare Fund.

These made up only about one in every 50 pieces of advice on social security in March, but by April this had jumped to one in 20.

There were a total 494,386 visits made to Citizens Advice Scotland online advice site – 44% more than in April 2019.

The report said: “We can see a higher number of visits to our site on every single comparable week day and weekend in April 2020, compared to 2019.

“There is a particularly high spike around the end of March/start of April, when we know that many people will have seen their payslips show a much lower figure than normal.”

CAS chief executive Derek Mitchell said: “The Citizens Advice network has adapted during the Covid-19 outbreak to ensure people are still getting the advice they need, and our data for April suggests ongoing concerns around employment issues and people’s incomes.”

He added: “Before the lockdown employment was normally the number three or four issue our network issued advice about – but the proportion of advice we have given has soared during the outbreak, showing people’s clear anxiety over work.

“While the Chancellor extending the Jobs Retention Scheme this week was welcome, Citizens Advice Bureaux cases show some people struggling to access the scheme.

“We’re also seeing significant examples of people facing a crisis of income during the outbreak, with increasing proportions of advice issued around foodbank referrals and crisis grants.”

Mr Mitchell added: “It’s increasingly clear that the economic consequences of Covid-19 are going to impact on household finances. Our message to people is that the Citizens Advice network in Scotland is here to help.”

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