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Snapshot: Advice Trends in Scotland

Advice trends from the second quarter 2014/15

Snapshot uses bureau evidence to act as an early warning system of where policies and practices are failing or inefficient. These quarterly briefings use very recent evidence and will be an excellent way of spotting trends in social policy and tracing the impact of recent policy changes. The briefings will be of use to politicians, government departments, the private sector, and third sector organisations – and anyone with an interest in the most important issues facing people in Scotland. 

This edition covers advice trends in Scotland during the second quarter of the 2014/15 financial year.

Key findings in this edition of Snapshot (covering July – September 2014) include:

Demand for advice is increasing

CAB in Scotland advised on 147,384 new issues in July-September 2014 – over 2,200 per working day. This was a 6% increase compared to the same period in the previous year.

All areas of advice saw increasing demand… except consumer debt

Every broad area of advice need increased this quarter compared to the same period in 2013, except debt which fell by 10%. Consumer debtissues fell by 20% compared to the same period last year, which is likely to be related to a squeeze on income and the availability of credit. However, non-consumer debt, such as council tax arrears and rent arrears, increased by 6%.

Issues with the benefit system continue to increase

Bureaux advised on 844 benefits issues per working day in this quarter, an increase of 8% compared to the same period in the previous year. ESA, Housing Benefit and JSA remain the most common issues in bureaux, although Personal Independence Payment (PIP), tax credits and the Scottish Welfare Fund were the benefit issues that increased the most in this period.

PIP is becoming a significant issue in bureaux

Issues related to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the new disability benefit, are increasing quickly at bureaux, with many clients experiencing significant delays in their assessments.

Poor employment practices are on the increase

Employment issues increased by 12% in this period compared to the previous year with issues relating to pay & entitlements (+21%), terms & conditions (+14%) and dismissal (+9%) all showing increases in advice need. Employment issues have increased in bureaux at the same time as the introduction of fees for taking a case to an Employment Tribunal has caused the number of tribunals to fall.

The number of clients requiring food parcels is continuing to increase

There were 1,827 new food parcel issues at bureaux during this quarter – a 27% increase on the previous quarter. Around 1 in every 44 clients had a food parcel issue in September, compared to around 1 in 50 at the start of 2014.


If you have any questions regarding the report, or would like to know more, please contact Keith Dryburgh, Policy Manager, on 0131 550 1015 or at

Keith Dryburgh
Publication date
January 2015
Publication type