Last year the Scottish CAB service recorded a 79% increase in the numbers of cases related to household fuel bills.
In that period Scotland’s 61 local citizens advice bureaux – together with the service’s new consumer helpline - saw a total of 282,220 consumer issues. This is just part of the total number of 890,000 issues seen by the Scottish CAB service as a whole, but shows how much of the work of the service is now devoted to consumer advice.
The report identifies the top 5 consumer issues as:
- Unsecured credit - 34,600
- Credit card debts - 32,627
- Bank accounts – 19,133
- Energy – 17,176
- Private rented housing - 15,976
The report also shows the issues that have increased compared to the previous year. The 5 biggest increases were:
- Domestic fuel +79%
- Tobacco +59%
- Parking issues +52%
- Private sales & internet auctions +49%
- Toiletries +39%
The report also shows regional trends within Scotland. e.g. Moray was the area which saw the highest number of consumer issues overall (per head), while Shetland saw the most calls on computing services, while West Lothian saw the highest number on Used Cars and North Lanarkshire on furniture.
Publishing the report, Citizens Advice Scotland’s Head of Policy Susan McPhee says:
"The CAB service has always helped people with consumer problems. Within our general workload of issues like benefits, housing, employment etc., there have always been people who need advice on a utility bill or a scam or faulty goods. But the sheer number of consumer problems we see has increased significantly over the last two years as the whole structure of consumer bodies in the country has been made more streamlined, with the CAB becoming one of the main agencies people can come to with their consumer problems.
“This report reflects that. It’s an important document, as it’s the first time we have been able to compile a national snapshot of what sort of consumer problems Scots are having to cope with, day by day. Every case is of course treated confidentially, but by collating them together we can identify particular trends and areas of concern, and these can be used by government and consumer regulators to frame public policy on these issues.
"This increased profile has of course brought more and more people to come to the CAB with their consumer problems – and we welcome that. People know we are now one of the leading agencies where they can get help on any kind of consumer issue. Either at a local CAB or from our specialist consumer helpline: 03454 040506. As with all CAB services, our consumer advice is free, independent and completely confidential."
Below is a link to Citizens Advice Scotland’s Consumer Snapshot. As well as the info above, it also lists detailed data by each Local Authority in Scotland, showing the top consumer issues recorded in each area.
Notes to editors - click to expand/collapse
For interviews or more information please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010.