At national and local level alike, the Scottish CAB Service gathers and shares the experiences of Scotland's citizens. We always ensure we have an evidence base so we can speak with confidence about real peoples' lives. This means we can call for changes to policies and practices, both curent and planned, across a wide range of organisations - local and national goverment, government agencies, private companies - that could improve outcomes for thousands of people across the land.
How do we gather our evidence?
Scottish bureaux compile statistical information and provide CAS with case studies (both are always anonymous) that tell us more about the people that visit the CAB, their circumstances, and the problems they bring to the bureau. When lots of people experience a similar problem, it may indicate that there is a social policy issue.
For example, recently implemented welfare reform changes are resulting in lots of people experiencing difficulties in making ends meet as they lose income they were previously entitled to. CAS presented the experiences of CAB clients in publications that include:
- a parliamentary briefing, Welfare changes: voices from the frontline that shows the personal impact of systemic welfare changes to Employment and Support Allowance and Tax Credits
- a parliamentary briefing for MSPs outlining the importance of ensuring that the Scottish Government’s Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill provides the citizens of Scotland with access to passported benefits when current benefits are effectively abolished and replaced in 2013 by the new Universal Credit
- an evidence report, From Pillar to Post. This report examines the impact of the Incapacity Benefit/Employment and Support Allowance migration on the 170,000 claimants who are to be reassessed in Scotland and the wider impact this will have on advice services, labour markets, and the economy.
CAS also conducts research in order to gain insights into the experiences of people living and working in Scotland. An example of this is our campaign on rural and remote delivery charges, first suggested by Skye & Lochalsh CAB. We conducted an online survey that ultimately captured over 3,000 responses from frustrated consumers who regularly find themselves disadvantaged by their postcode when buying goods online. Free delivery shows the results of the first wave of survey respondents - 863 - and a further report is planned based on the full survey base.
Local and national social policy work
CAS Social Policy Team
A team of social policy experts based in Edinburgh undertake research and analysis of all our evidence, often basing their work priorities on the feedback of our member bureaux. We then ensure that our evidence and recommendations are distributed to politicians, civil servants and other people who can benefit from our knowledge.
If you would like to get in touch with us, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 550 1000.
Get LIPPY! is the Local Impact Project funded by CAS to support bureaux to carry out a range of local social policy activities. The Get LIPPY! team help bureaux raise their profile with local campaigns and to demonstrate their impact using the data they've gathered - work that is especially important in the current funding climate. As well as developing and encouraging more local policy work and campaigning, the project seeks to promote the breadth of policy work already carried out across the Scottish CAB Service.
Bureau local social policy action
Member citizens advice bureaux know what are the top issues in their local area because of the trends in the enquiries they receive from clients. Sometimes these feed into a bigger picture of the same problem being replicated across the country, in which case the CAS Social Policy Team can review our evidence base and work together with bureaux on national activity that raises awareness of the problem and how it can be resolved.
However, sometimes the issue is particularly localised or more prominent in one part of the country, in which case a CAB or group of bureaux can take appropriate local action. For example, Coatbridge CAB participates in the North Lanarkshire Information and Advice Forum which includes council, NHS, Pension Service and other independent advice agencies. The Forum undertakes campaigning work to promote benefits take up, raises awareness of welfare changes within the local community and delivers multi-agency training sessions that increase community capacity to respond to these changes.