CAS has submitted evidence to the Welfare Reform Committee's inquiry on women and welfare reform. This submission is based on a comprehensive analysis of client profile data from people who visited citizens advice bureaux in Scotland over a one month period (November 2014). It also based on evidence and case studies from bureaux which show the impact that different welfare reforms have had so far for people in Scotland.
Our submission highlights that women are more likely to seek advice than men in relation to particular benefits including Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credits, Child Benefit and Income Support. Reforms to these benefits, along with errors and delays in their administration, are therefore likely to have a disproportionate impact on women.
Our analysis of client profile data shows that the majority of bureau clients (54%) are women. Overall female clients compared to male clients are more likely to be caring for children and more likely to be a single parent. They are also more likely to be working part time. This profile is similar for female clients seeking advice on benefits, tax credits and national insurance issues with the key exception being that they are less likely to be employed.
Despite a recent fall in the number of new issues, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) remains the most common advice area that clients seek advice on for both women and men, with 38,619 new issues related to this in 2013/14. The fall in numbers is mainly related to a drop in the number of appeal issues, which is likely to be due to the introduction of the mandatory reconsideration process.