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Publications

  1. CAS supports principles of single enforcement body but warns it must be adequately resourced and resist centralisation
    Nina Ballantyne
    Publication date:
    January 2020

    Citizens Advice Bureaux across Scotland dealt with over 40,000 employment issues in 2018-19 alone, and recorded more than 300 detailed case studies related to employment. Employment advice is consistently one of our top five advice areas, and the advice categories “terms and conditions” and “pay and entitlements” are the most commonly recorded client inquiries. Between, 2016-17 and 2017-18, employment issues related to terms and conditions, and pay and entitlements grew slightly as a proportion of all employment issues we dealt with.  This Citizens Advice Scotland response is based on our previous research in this area and analysis of detailed case studies submitted by frontline advisers between April 2018 and September 2019[i].

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  2. Scottish Commission on Social Security consultation
    Rob Gowans
    Publication date:
    January 2020

    Citizens Advice Scotland recommends the draft regulations are amended to change or clarify a number of areas to improve the social security support provided to disabled children and young people.

  3. The Citizens Advice Scotland network magazine
    Publication date:
    January 2020

    Issue of 2 of the Citizens Advice network in Scotland magazine

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  4. Citizens Advice Scotland
    Publication date:
    January 2020

    This is the Annual Report for Citizens Advice Scotland for the 2018-19 financial year.

  5. CAS calls for better notice of shifts and shift cancellation
    Nina Ballantyne
    Publication date:
    January 2020

    Citizens Advice Scotland is publishing its response to a UK Government "Good Work Plan" consultation. This consultation looked at unfair one-sided flexible working practices, where the employer expects the worker to be flexible and respond to shift changes with no or little notice, while not reciprocating. In this response, CAS provides examples of workers suffering detriment as a result of one-sided flexibility and makes recommendations to address this.

  6. Aoife Deery
    Publication date:
    January 2020

    This is CAS' response to the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee's call for view on local energy and electric vehicles, as part of their Energy Inquiry. CAS acknowledges the central role that locally-owned energy and electric vehicles have to play in the transition to low carbon, in line with climate change targets but we emphasise the need to protect consumers in the transition from unaffordably high fuel bills, scams and lack of redress, especially those who are vulnerable to these changes.

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  7. CAS briefing for MPs
    Debbie Horne
    Publication date:
    January 2020

    Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) believes the Universal Credit (UC) system must change if the benefit is to work for all citizens across Scotland, and the rest of the UK. By ‘work’ CAS means the UC system should not cause financial destitution or debt, should be accessible to everyone and should support people who are in work.

  8. Mike Holmyard
    Publication date:
    January 2020

    CAS responded and gave evidence to the Inquiry on Protected Trust Deeds.

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  9. Publication date:
    December 2019

    This briefing paper outlines the scale of the challenge to improve the energy performance of Scotland’s housing stock. It presents CAS’ estimate of how much it will cost to raise the energy performance of all homes in Scotland to at least an EPC C by 2040 (EPC B for social sector homes) in line with the Scottish Government’s target under Energy Efficient Scotland (EES).

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  10. Emma Ash
    Publication date:
    December 2019

    CAS welcomes the proposals for ECO3. The ECO scheme has helped deliver energy efficiency measures to vulnerable consumers in two other phases and we were pleased to see that BEIS and Ofgem are expanding consumer protections in this third iteration. In particular, we are pleased to see the incorporation of Trustmark into ECO3 to certify suppliers.  

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  11. Aoife Deery
    Publication date:
    December 2019

    Citizens Advice Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond to this consultation. It is important that we recognise the role that all bodies and sectors have to play in achieving the new and ambitious climate change targets that were passed in the Climate Change Bill in September 2019. 


    It is, however, imperative that the Scottish Government properly supports public bodies to meet any new duties or roles. It is important that public bodies are able to continue to provide the same (or higher) standard of service to citizens without inadvertently or intentionally passing on the cost of achieving emissions reductions to the very citizens they are trying to support.

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  12. Publication date:
    December 2019

    This policy report summarises findings and recommendations from our research into the complaints process for post and parcel companies. 

    CAS commissioned interviews with a number of delivery companies, and found that many are falling behind the Universal Service Provider Royal Mail when it comes to consumer complaints procedures.

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  13. Aoife Deery
    Publication date:
    December 2019

    In this response, Citizens Advice Scotland lays out our support of the broad aims of the principles within the policy statement, but urge that much more must be done to strengthen consumer protection and ensure that communities are involved in the process in an inclusive, sustainable way that meets their needs. 

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  14. Social Security Advisory Committee consultation
    Rob Gowans
    Publication date:
    December 2019

    Citizens Advice Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond to the consultation. Advice on disability benefits and mobility are among the most common areas of advice provided by Scotland’s CAB network. In 2018-19, Scottish CAB provided advice to clients on 47,133 issues related to the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), and 5,050 related to the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) mobility element.

  15. The issues on which people are turning to the Citizens Advice network in Scotland for help.
    Publication date:
    December 2019
  16. A proposed guide for phone, broadband and pay-TV providers
    Kyle Scott
    Publication date:
    November 2019

    Citizens Advice Scotland has called for phone, broadband and pay-TV providers to recognise that vulnerable consumers need extra support in accessing these services.

    In a response to a consultation by Ofcom which is seeking to provide guidance to providers on treatment of vulnerable consumers, CAS calls for an inclusive approach which widens the definition of vulnerability to include rurality, and which recognises that consumers can be vulnerable at different times in their lives.

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  17. Alastair Wilcox
    Publication date:
    November 2019

    The energy regulator, Ofgem, publishes data on the consumption of gas and electricity by typical domestic consumers in GB. These Typical Domestic Consumption Values become industry standards and are used in a variety of different ways by energy suppliers, Price Comparison Websites, and the media. They have also become the benchmark annual consumption value used by Ofgem when it sets the prepayment and default tariff price caps.

    The Typical Domestic Consumption Values are based on the total domestic consumption of gas and electricity in GB over a 2-year period and are subject to biennial review.

    Having last been reviewed in 2017, Ofgem published its latest review of the Typical Domestic Consumption Values in an open letter to the energy industry and its stakeholders on 18 October 2019. In our response to this consultation, CAS observes that:

    • The value of the Typical Domestic Consumption Values to both consumers and suppliers is eroded by the use of GB averages. These hide very significant variations in typical annual domestic gas and electricity consumption between the different regions of GB. The Typical Domestic Consumption Values could therefore be made more relevant were they to be reported as a series of averages by electricity distribution network operator region. This would be consistent with how gas and electricity tariffs are priced in GB.
    • For properties with wet electric heating systems and/or supplied via multiple electricity meter points, the aggregation of all multi-rate electricity meter types results in a series of Typical Domestic Consumption Values that significantly misrepresents consumers’ total annual consumption and their peak:off-peak consumption split. With the possibility that the revised Typical Domestic Consumption Values will be integrated into the prepayment and default tariff price caps at a later date, there is a need for a discreet set of Typical Domestic Consumption Values and peak:off-peak consumption splits to be produced for a small number of related multi-rate electricity meter sub-profiles.
    • In addition to providing a more balanced and more locally representative price cap, these changes would also allow suppliers to provide consumers with better quality information on how their energy use compares with similar consumers, and better quality, more relevant advice on energy efficiency.
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  18. Scottish Parliament debate
    Debbie Horne
    Publication date:
    November 2019

    Since the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) began, CAS has repeatedly raised concerns about fundamental elements of the design and delivery of the UC system.

    Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) data, including Citizen Alerts (cases from local CAB), have shown the key problem elements of UC to be; the five week wait for first payment, the digital by default system, direct deductions from payments and increasing rent arrears caused by the cycle of payment in arrears.

  19. Period 1 October 2018 - 30 September 2019
    Claire Williams
    Publication date:
    November 2019

    Over the last project year we supported 2,347 individuals, and gave advice over 12,300 times, achieving a client financial gain of over £3.3 million. The full report, which includes more detailed statistics, an overview of activities and case studies, can downloaded below. 

  20. Alastair Wilcox
    Publication date:
    November 2019

    Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) believes it is more important to get the smart meter rollout right than it is for it to be rushed through to arbitrary deadlines, and we have long been concerned that the 2020 smart meter deadline was so unrealistic that it risked having a negative effect on consumers. In June 2016 we therefore published a report that called for the smart meter rollout to adopt an interim target of 80% smart meter coverage by the end of 2020, with 100% coverage achieved no later than the end of 2025. We reiterated this call in August 2018, and so we welcomed the UK Government’s September 2019 announcement that the smart meter rollout is to be extended to the end of 2024.

    This new-found pragmatism provides an opportunity for a review of the targets, incentives and penalties to which energy suppliers will be exposed as the smart meter rollout progresses over the next 5 years. However, it must also be acknowledged that there remain multiple technical barriers to the universal rollout of smart meters, particularly in remote rural areas and for many Scottish households that use traditional electric storage heaters as the primary form of space heating.

    These constraints lead CAS to be concerned that consumers reliant on electric heating in Scotland will be among the very last in GB to benefit from the smart meter rollout. Indeed, under current proposals we believe that it would be possible for electricity suppliers to comfortably exceed the proposed post-2020 smart meter targets without a single Scottish consumer with traditional electric heating having benefited from the rollout. This risks placing the costs of maintaining the traditional meter network onto a relatively small customer base, increasing prices for a group of consumers where a majority (52%) already struggle to afford to heat their homes to an acceptable standard.

    CAS does not underestimate the significant challenges required to overcome these issues, but we are equally clear that the smart meter policy framework and the regulation of the retail energy market post-2020 must not unfairly burden consumers with additional costs they have no opportunity to avoid. We therefore believe that there may be a need to provide short-term protection for consumers whose ability to access the benefits of smart meters is restricted by the industry's readiness to provide them with suitable metering equipment. We also consider that suppliers could be better encouraged to deliver a market-wide smart meter rollout in all areas of GB if the proposed minimum coverage level were to apply separately in each electricity distribution network area.

    While CAS supports proposals to move away from the “all reasonable steps” obligation that currently governs suppliers’ smart meter engagement programs, we are also cautious about the impact of holding suppliers to binding, linear annual targets given the technical barriers referred to above. The Citizens Advice network in Scotland already hears the concerns of consumers who have felt pressured into accepting a smart meter by their energy supplier, and even of instances where attempts to install smart meters have been made by domestic energy supply licence holders that are not the registered supplier at the property concerned. This suggests that while the imposition of installation targets backed by financial penalties for non-compliance may be driving the pace of the smart meter rollout, such targets may adversely impact consumers’ experience of smart meter installation and could jeopardise levels of engagement with the planned transition to a smarter energy future. We believe that suppliers may already be suitably incentivised to encourage their customers to embrace smart meters, and we therefore urge Ofgem to place its post-2020 focus on the enforcement of a high quality customer journey throughout the energy transition.

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