The Citizens Advice network is worth up to £245 million to Scottish society, new analysis published today reveals.
The analysis comes from a new independent report from Europe Economics into the economic value of advice provided during the year 2019/20, and includes analysis that the advice and information provided on the Advice for Scotland website is worth up to £148million.
Citizens Advice Bureaux across Scotland unlock millions of pounds for people every year in client financial gain through things like access to social security payments, employment entitlements and lower bills for utilities.
However, when someone gets advice from a CAB and has their problem solved they avoid further adverse consequences. For example someone who has their income maximised and no longer has to choose between heating their home and buying food avoids the ill health consequences as a result.
The report considers that wider holistic impact and found that the network saves the public purse tens of millions of pounds a year. Such as:
- Savings on mental health spending of over £15million
- Physical health savings of up to £7.3 million
- Emissions savings equivalent to over 2,000 homes
- Savings on legal proceedings of over £11.5 million
- Client financial gain was estimated to support approximately 1,616 jobs and £51.14m in wages. The network itself supported around over 1400 jobs.
The Citizens Advice network in Scotland is made up of 59 independent charities – the individual Citizens Advice Bureaux based in communities across the country, as well as the Extra Help Unit, a team of specialist case workers who give energy and water advice, and Citizens Advice Scotland itself.
The report is being published a decade on from the publication of the Christie Commission, which called for a prioritising of expenditure on public services to prevent negative outcomes from arising in the first place, as well as greater empowerment of communities.
Commenting on the report, Citizens Advice Scotland Chair Rory Mair CBE said:
“This landmark report shows the exceptional value provided by the Citizens Advice network in Scotland.
“We already know that CABs put money back into people’s pockets by helping them access social security payments and benefit entitlements, as well as reducing their debt payments and cutting their utility bills.
“What we now see is the wider value of this work to the Scottish economy and society, which runs into hundreds of millions of pounds.
“The network generates millions of pounds in economic output, saves the public purse millions of pounds in preventative spending, and even plays a part in helping reduce emissions as we all look to play our part in moving towards a greener economy.
“The majority of these gains are spread out across the country thanks to CABs in communities across Scotland, not centralised in one place.
“What this shows is the incredible importance of properly funded advice for people. During the pandemic CABs stepped up and ensured people got the advice they needed to navigate the crisis, and we’ll be here to help people during the economic fallout that will follow the virus, just as we were following the economic crash of 2008, and just as we have been for over 80 years.”