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Publications

  1. Publication date:
    January 2022

    CAS has responded to the Scottish Legal Aid Board's consultation on civil legal aid financial eligibility assessment

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  2. Emma Ash
    Publication date:
    January 2022

    This report examines the value of 'blue-green infrastructure' and how the use of nature-based drainage solutions can mitigate flooding risks as well as benefit communities. In doing so the report addresses the need for community engagement, effective communication and where blue-green solutions fit into Scotland's infrastructure vision. 

    The research comprises of three key elements:

    • Developing an understanding of how local authorities and housing associations meet the challenges of developing blue-green infrastructure, as part of creating positive living environments.
    • Establishing how people understand the terms and concepts used in relation to the field and the water sector more broadly.
    • Collaborative discussion of the main issues identified with other stakeholders in the sector.
  3. Laura Toffolo, David Scott
    Publication date:
    January 2022

    Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is supportive of the proposed approach to ending poverty and the need for food banks. The twin emphasis on prevention and response ensures the reasons for food bank use are tackled at source, rather than focusing only on how emergency support is delivered, and overall CAS would agree that moving towards a cash-first approach to food aid is a positive step. Measures which enable people to choose their own food can restore dignity in emergency food provision, enable people to buy food they enjoy and choose the items that will make the most difference to themselves and their families.

    However, there are additional dimensions to the need for food banks that CAS would call for further consideration of. These include:

    ›     The role of advice services in food bank referrals

    ›     Availability of social security support for different types of people

    ›     Debt as a driving factor in food bank use

    ›     Fuel poverty as a driving factor in food bank use

    ›     Housing costs as a driving factor for food bank use

    ›     Potential barriers to a cash-first scheme

  4. David Scott
    Publication date:
    January 2022

    This report, the last in a three-part series on UC during the pandemic, sets out what lessons can be learned from the past 18 months to future-proof UC. Updating and contextualising our survey with data drawn from the Citizens Advice network across Scotland, this report outlines the fixes that are needed for UC to properly support five groups of people who seek advice from CAB every day:

    > People who are newly out of work
    > People who are looking for work
    > People who are in work
    > People who are unable to work due to caring responsibilities or a disability
    > People with children

    Citizens Advice Scotland is calling for:

    > Safe access to UC by introducing a non-repayable assessment period grant at the beginning of all UC claims and replacing the DWP’s debt recovery process with a revised system that better reflects people’s ability to pay
    > A permanent increase to the basic allowance of UC
    > A review of UC as an in-work benefit, including reintroduction of Work Allowances for everyone, to make sure UC properly supports those in employment
    > Protecting and uprating support for people with disabilities and caring responsibilities
    > Scrapping the benefit cap and the two-child limit

  5. David Scott
    Publication date:
    December 2021

    Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) welcomes the Scottish Government’s support for improving working practices across Scotland. Progress on equal employment access and pay for women, minority ethnic, and disabled workers is welcome, as is the commitment to introduce a requirement on public sector grants recipients to pay at least the real Living Wage to all employees by summer 2022. These actions will improve working conditions for many.

    However, the majority of people CAB see every day do not work in the sectors supported by the most ambitious Fair Work plans. They will instead be in low-paid and insecure work, often facing violations of very basic employment rights. For these people, the first step to a Fair Work Nation must be better enforcement of their already-existing rights.

    Advice services like CAB play an important role in informing people about their employment rights, giving them a more effective voice in challenging unfair work practices. This is particularly necessary for low-paid jobs where union membership is likely to be less concentrated.

    In 2020-21, Scotland’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) network gave 74,994 pieces of employment advice to clients – 8% of all advice provided across the network last year – making employment the third most popular advice area, behind social security and debt advice.

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  6. Andrew Fraser
    Publication date:
    December 2021

    Citizens Advice Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government's Legal Services Regulation Reform in Scotland consultation

    Spotlight:
  7. Issue 7 of the Citizens Advice Scotland network magazine
    Citizens Advice Scotland
    Publication date:
    December 2021

    Here is the Autumn/Winter 2021 edition of Voice. In this issue we focus on some if the green issues that we have all been thinking about in the wake of COP26. We hear from colleagues who attended the climate summit and learn a bit about their roles there. Patrick Harvie MSP shares his thoughts on the event and tells us how we, as a network, can support Net Zero ambitions. We also take a look at a range of energy related issues - from the BESW campaign to fuel poverty and rising energy costs. The Increase Volunteering project team gave us the low down on how they ae supporting training and Roxburgh CAB are ahead of the game in helping their local community to comply with upcoming fire and smoke alarm regulations.

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  8. Rebecca King and Michael O'Brien
    Publication date:
    November 2021

    The Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act 2019 requires the Scottish Government to publish a fuel poverty strategy, outline what steps will be taken to meet fuel poverty targets and identify the characteristics of households likely to be in fuel poverty or for whom getting out of fuel poverty presents particular challenges.

    The Citizens Advice network in Scotland gathers demographic data on those who contact their local Citizens Advice Bureau for support as well as information on the types of issues on which people seek advice, including fuel poverty. This demographic data allows for examination of CAB clients who have protected characteristics and whether they are more or less likely to seek advice on fuel poverty-related issues.

    This report analyses that data within the policy context, considers other relevant literature, and makes a number of recommendations.

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  9. Gail Walker
    Publication date:
    November 2021

    CAS welcomes the Consumer Duty consultation paper. We believe that, in principle, Scottish public bodies should have an embedded duty to consider the impact that decisions related to policy, and adopted practice could, and does, have on those engaging in its services, particularly vulnerable consumers. Scotland’s Citizens Advice network regularly deals with clients who are impacted by a lack of regard to consumer outcomes or who fall victim to poor service design.

    We believe that a consumer duty will strengthen consumer protection from unintended consequences resulting from public authority decision-making. It is essential that a consumer duty results in meaningful improvements in the consumer journey and achieves positive outcomes for public authority service users.

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  10. Publication date:
    November 2021
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  11. Publication date:
    November 2021

    Citizens Advice Scotland response to the Scottish Government consultation on COVID recovery 

    Spotlight:
  12. Andrew Fraser
    Publication date:
    November 2021

    Citizens Advice Scotland has responded to the Scottish Civil Justice Council consultation on Rules Covering the Mode of Attendance at Court Hearings

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  13. Aoife Deery
    Publication date:
    October 2021
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  14. Publication date:
    October 2021

    This year the eyes of the world will be upon Glasgow for COP26, as parties and delegates try to accelerate action on climate change. Citizens Advice Scotland supports Net Zero and we want to see a just transition that creates good quality jobs and doesn’t increase the burden on the poorest consumers. That Net Zero must also be tangible and accessible to the poorest consumers is a theme that has run through much of our policy and research work in the run-up to COP26, highlights of which are set out in this document.

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  15. Publication date:
    October 2021

    In May 2019, The Scottish Government committed to establishing an independent Energy Consumers Commission (ECC) to enhance the voice of consumers who reside in Scotland within the energy market. The Commission was formed in July 2020 consisting of representatives with a wealth of experience in national consumer advocacy and advice bodies, academia and local groups serving energy consumers in their communities.

    The Priority Services Register (PSR) is a record held by energy suppliers and network operators which enables them to provide additional support services to consumers in vulnerable situations.

    Ofgem practices principles-based regulation in relation to vulnerability, and although suppliers and network operators broadly determine who can benefit from their PSRs, a level of consistency is ensured across the industry by a common framework of needs codes and vulnerability flags.

    Previous research has found that the strength and depth of priority services, and those they seek to support, varies both between different PSR holders, and across different parts of Great Britain.

    This briefing, based on research commissioned from Changeworks, examines how experiences of the PSR vary in Scotland in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the early stages of the transition to low carbon heating and electric vehicles. It also summarises the Commission’s recommendations on how the services offered and/or the range of vulnerabilities provided for under PSRs and other energy industry vulnerability initiatives can be improved.

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  16. Publication date:
    October 2021

    CAS Financial Statements for year ended 31st March 2020.

  17. Publication date:
    October 2021

    CAS Financial Statements for year ended 31st March 2021.

  18. A snapshot of citizens advice bureaux clients
    Publication date:
    October 2021

    Our 8th edition in the 'Who Are You?' series describes those coming to citizens advice bureaux in Scotland for advice during November 2019. 

  19. Kyle Scott
    Publication date:
    October 2021

    The day-to-day activities of citizens are becoming increasingly dependent on their ability to use telecommunications services, such as mobile phones, broadband or landlines. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the essential nature of online connectivity and access to internet data, with many people relying on internet access for working from home, staying informed or interacting with welfare services.

     

    Executive Summary

     

    CAS generally supports the measures proposed by Ofcom. In summary:

    • The voluntary measures to support consumers introduced by providers during the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic were welcomed by CAS, as an effective response that has assisted in reducing consumer detriment over the past year.
    • With consumers facing potential economic uncertainty as furlough and support schemes taper and Universal Credit uplifts look likely to be reversed, we believe it is timely to reconsider whether the protections for people in debt or struggling to pay remain appropriate, or whether there is a case for strengthening them.
    • CAS supports measures which allow consumers in debt or at risk of disconnection to be treated fairly and have every opportunity to resolve these issues before disconnection takes place or service restrictions are imposed.
    • CAS welcomes proposals to improve how providers identify and communicate with vulnerable consumers.
    • CAS agrees that there should be more consistency in the ways providers communicate regarding debt and the ways they seek to obtain payment from customers in debt.
    • CAS would wish to see the Consumer Principles embedded within the development of future measures, guidance, and regulations.
    • CAS remains concerned regarding affordability issues and would welcome an early engagement approach by providers which aims to prevent a build up of debt
    • We believe that further work is required to encourage providers to not only provide but to actively encourage take up of social tariffs for consumers who may be at risk of falling into debt.
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  20. Publication date:
    October 2021

    In May 2019, The Scottish Government committed to establishing an independent Energy Consumers Commission (ECC) to enhance the voice of consumers who reside in Scotland within the energy market. The Commission was formed in July 2020 consisting of representatives with a wealth of experience in national consumer advocacy and advice bodies, academia and local groups serving energy consumers in their communities.

    Eradicating fuel poverty has been a policy priority for the Scottish Government since 2016, and has been a statutory obligation since the passage of the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act in 2019. While fuel poverty has been formally defined since 2019, and a fuel poverty strategy is expected in 2021, fuel debt has not been given the same attention by researchers and policy makers.

    Fuel debt is likely to become more prevalent and more unmanageable this winter as energy prices rise, and financial support such as the £20/week Universal Credit uplift and furlough end. This briefing, based on research commissioned from Changeworks, examines how fuel debt differs from fuel poverty, what key issues exist in Scotland, and the Commission’s recommendations on how to address rising levels of fuel debt.

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