The Citizens Advice Service marks its 70th anniversary today, as a new survey shows that the service is highly trusted and valued in Scotland.
The service began on 4 September 1939 as a war-time agency. But, instantly popular with the public, it survived into the post-war years as it became clear that people needed an organisation to help them deal with the new Benefits system. Today, in the consumer age, it is also a vital life-line for people who are in debt and financial difficulty.
Research commissioned to coincide with the birthday - conducted by Ipsos MORI - shows that 20% of the population in Scotland have contacted a CAB in the last 3 years. And when Ipsos MORI surveyed our customers, 93% were satisfied with the service they received, and 74% were VERY satisfied. 98% felt that the service was trustworthy, and 97% agreed that it helped people get ‘fair treatment’.
Ms Kaliani Lyle, the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said,
“These figures are hugely encouraging, and a real tribute to all the hardworking men and women up and down the country who make the CAB service what it is. Private companies would give anything to have these kind of satisfaction ratings! It shows an extraordinary level of service, not just now but over the last seventy years.
“And I have no doubt that the reason why people trust our service so much is because of the people who work in it – the vast majority of whom are volunteers: people who are giving of their time to help others in their community. Wherever people need help, the CAB will offer it. That principle has always been at the heart of our service, and it always will be.”
Ms Lyle says that the current recession is placing massive demands on the service however, and that all 72 CABs in Scotland are reporting that they are busier than ever before. She says,
“The recession has seen a huge increase in the numbers of people needing advice, right across Scotland. Debt cases in particular have soared, and redundancy problems are also on the rise. As a result, many bureaux are finding it difficult to cope, and are looking for more volunteers to come forward and help out.
“So today, on our 70th birthday, I would like to appeal to anyone reading this who has got some time to spare, and who would like to make a contribution to helping their community. Get in touch with your local CAB – details will be in the phone book – and ask about volunteering. No prior experience is necessary, and we give full training and support. You’ll get great satisfaction working in a CAB. It’s challenging work, but there is a terrific team spirit. And there is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you have helped someone who was in dire need.”
Looking to the future, Ms Lyle believes the service will go from strength to strength.
“There is no doubt that there is a continued need for the CAB service. One glance at any one of our waiting rooms will tell you that. We will continue to advise people, because if we didn’t, who would? We are grateful for the support and the goodwill of the public. And we are ready for the next 70 years.”
A photograph of Kaliani Lyle is attached. She is available for interview, as are all of the local CAB Managers throughout the country.
Contact Tony Hutson 0131 550 1010. or 07774 751655.
Notes to editors - click to expand/collapse
1.A detailed history of the CAB service in Scotland, 1939-2009, is attached.
2.The opinion poll research by Ipsos Mori comprised two main components: a nationally representative telephone survey of 500 adults aged 16+ across Scotland and a telephone survey of 500 customers who had contacted a Citizens Advice Bureaux within the last year (i.e. July 2008 – July 2009). The details of the recent customers were provided by Citizens Advice Bureaux from 28 Local Authority areas, all of whom had consented for their details to be forwarded to Ipsos MORI for the purpose of participating in the survey. All interviews were conducted by telephone between 2 – 30 July 2009.
3.There are 72 CAB offices in Scotland. Every Local Authority area has at least one, except Inverclyde and South Ayrshire – both of which can access offices in adjacent Local Authorities. Moreover, most bureaux have outreach services whereby they offer advice periodically in areas outwith their own office, so there are in fact some 200 CAB 'service points' in Scotland. Bureaux also offer advice by telephone and online.
4.The CAB service in Scotland has over 2,200 volunteers. Between them they contribute 12,800 hours of work per week. Almost 30% of volunteers leaving the service move into employment.