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Military heroes get the support they deserve

11 Nov 2014

CAB service wins over £3.5m for Scotland’s Armed Services community

  • Citizens Advice Scotland’s Armed Services Advice Project (ASAP) started in 2010.
  • Over 5,700 individual veterans and service people helped by the project since then.
  • New report looks into difference between Armed Services clients and other CAB clients.
  • On Tuesday 11th November  there will be a debate in the Scottish Parliament to mark Armistice Day and to note the work of the ASAP. 

A new report launched by Citizens Advice Scotland and presented to the Minister for Veterans Keith Brown MSP, has examined in detail the support provided to veterans and service people in Scotland. 

Funded primarily by Poppyscotland and supported by other veterans’ organisations, Citizens Advice Scotland’s Armed Services Advice Project (ASAP) delivers help and support through the CAB network in Scotland. Individual advice often brings financial support to the client – e.g. in the form of compensation, grants or benefits. Over the five years of the service, these gains have amounted to a total of over £3.5m put back in the pockets of the service community in Scotland.   

Standout trends from our report include the highly complex nature of veterans’ problems and the higher likelihood that ASAP clients have of presenting to the CAB Service with a ‘crisis’ issue, like homelessness or unemployment. Other issues include finding accommodation, work, and mental health issues. 

Citizens Advice Scotland’s Policy Manager, Keith Dryburgh, said: 

“This report, which follows on from a similar piece of work in 2012, highlights the issues that Scotland’s service community face, and poses some interesting conclusions and poses questions for policymakers and the general public alike. 

“ASAP clients come to us with issues that broadly mirror the problems seen by the wider CAB service.  In particular, ASAP has experienced large increases in issues caused by reforms to the welfare system. However, the veterans’ community seem to have been less hit by sanctions, food parcels and payday loans. 

“We’re really pleased that the vast majority of veterans make successful transitions back into civilian life.  But the importance of this service stems from the support it gives to the significant minority who struggle, often with a combination of: finding alternative employment, maintaining a home, a lack of financial knowledge, a complicated benefits system, and (often undiagnosed) mental or physical health problems. 

“These are all issues that could cause a person severe and long term difficulties. When in combination, it is absolutely critical they are dealt with as soon as possible by a trusted organisation such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.” 

Speaking about the debate that will take place later at Holyrood, Scotland’s Veterans Minister Keith Brown MSP said: 

“This debate is an opportunity to publically acknowledge the success of the Armed Services Advice Project. 

“It also highlights initiatives by national, third sector organisations like Citizen Advice Scotland which are forward thinking and collaborative working and delivering help, support and tangible results to those who face disadvantages. 

“The fact that additional benefits of over £3.5 million have been secured for veterans and service people since the dedicated ASAP started in 2010, shows the success of the project, and I congratulate CAS and all the staff involved as advisors, for their considerable achievements.” 

Poppyscotland’s Head of Welfare Services, Gary Gray, said: 

“Access to expert and up-to-date advice is critical in enabling members of the Armed Forces community to address some of the unique challenges they may face. The report identifies the key issues, prominent amongst them employment, housing, health and managing finances. These difficulties are often inter-related, making them more complex in nature. Tackling these needs is precisely why we, in partnership with CAS and a number of other charities, introduced the Armed Services Advice Project in 2010 and the results clearly demonstrate the hugely positive impact of the project so far and the ongoing need. 

“The more that can be done to examine the complex and multiple issues facing this group the better. Complementing this report will be the results of a Scotland-wide household survey to be published shortly, giving us a valuable opportunity to understand the demographic profile of this group, while exploring the key areas of need.” 

ENDS

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