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The Money Support Scotland campaign comes after a YouGov survey revealed that more than 20 per cent of Scots living in the Lothians wouldn’t feel comfortable receiving any type of financial benefits or support, even if they were eligible.
The survey, commissioned by the Scottish Government, also found that Lothians residents were concerned about being judged by others for receiving benefits, with 17 per cent saying they were concerned about being judged for receiving Universal Credit and 10 per cent for receiving Child Tax Credits.
Therefore, the results showed that there may be people in the Lothians who are eligible for financial support but aren’t accepting the help.
The Scottish Government has launched a dedicated website - www.moneysupport.scot - which seeks to address the stigma that people may have around claiming benefits and help those experiencing financial difficulties to find the support they need.
The website contains information and contact details for a range of organisations able to provide information on benefits people could be eligible for, where to go for free and impartial debt advice, and how to apply for affordable credit.
The campaign is working in partnership with Citizens Advice Scotland and Advice Direct Scotland, both of which offer advice and support. The Citizens Advice network offers free, impartial and confidential advice, with trained advisors able to help explain how people can maximise their income, cut costs and help manage debt. It also has a Money Map tool which helps people check which benefits and grants they might be entitled to as well as eligibility for council tax reductions and support with housing and energy costs.
Advice Direct Scotland also provides financial advice and offers a free benefit calculator on their website.
Derek Mitchell, chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “People shouldn’t feel uncomfortable about accessing the support they are entitled to. That’s how the welfare state works – we all pay in and get support when we need it. That’s what the money is there for, and after the past few years people should be confident about getting the payments they are due.
“The reality is people are facing a perfect storm this winter of rising bills and falling incomes, so maximising your income and getting all the money you are entitled to is really important to help with bills and spending.
“Citizens Advice Scotland is proud to partner with the Scottish Government on this important campaign to ensure people get the help they need this winter. The Citizens Advice network can give people help in a variety of ways and during the pandemic we unlocked around £147 million for people through things like social security payments, employment entitlements and debt reductions.”