Citizens Advice helped almost 100,000 Scots since lockdown
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The Citizens Advice network in Scotland is proving to be more vital than ever amid the coronavirus crisis, with new figures showing that almost 100,000 people received help in the six months since the UK went into lockdown.
Over 450,000 individual pieces of advice have been issued by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) to 92,276 people since the lockdown came into effect on March 23.
Citizens Advice Bureaux were only allowed to reopen for face-to-face advice for vulnerable clients in August, following Scottish Government approval, with the majority of advice issued over the phone or sought online.
With the furlough scheme expected to end in October, CAS said they expect the demand for services to increase in the coming months, as they anticipate rising unemployment and personal debt.
CAS deputy chief executive Anne Lavery said the increased demand for support during the pandemic showed the importance of funding free, impartial and confidential advice.
Ms Lavery said: “This data shows the absolutely staggering work Citizens Advice Bureaux are doing in local communities across the country during this crisis, helping people recognise their rights and access money they are entitled to.
“To do that – while the country went through unprecedented levels of change in how we work and live our lives – shows how resilient local Citizens Advice Bureaux are.
“The network has been there for people for 80 years and hasn’t missed a beat during the pandemic.”
Ms Lavery expects demand for advice to grow even further as the furlough scheme winds down and people face growing unemployment and rising debts.
"That’s why we think it should be extended in certain sectors and part of the UK to protect people,” she said.
“It’s also vital that Citizens Advice Bureaux are properly funded and protected going forward – people need them now more than ever.”
Figures released last week also revealed the vast majority of Scots seeking help from Citizens Advice Bureaux for employment and housing issues have never used the service before.
First-time visitors to a bureau are more likely to be younger, employed and owner-occupiers than those attending before the coronavirus lockdown, according to the latest CAS monthly report.
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