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Publications

  1. David Scott
    Publication date:
    September 2021

    The Scottish Campaign on Rights to Social Security (SCoRSS) is a coalition of organisations who advocate for a reformed social security system that reflects the five principles set out in our Principles for Change. SCoRSS (previously the Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform) encompasses over 40 organisations from key third sector organisations, charities, faith groups, and unions. Our members have a diverse range of experience and expertise and a strong understanding of social security and its impact on the people and communities we work with.

    Focusing on the impact the £20-a-week cut to UC will have to Scotland, our briefing shows that:

    • Nearly three quarters (74%) of Scottish Citizens Advice Bureau clients on UC will struggle if the cut goes through;
    • 1 in 4 people claiming UC in Scotland say they are ‘very likely’ to need to skip meals when the cut hits, and 17% say they are very likely to use a food bank;
    • As many as 4,000 low-income households (8,000 children) will lose entitlement to Scottish Child Payment if the cut goes ahead, due to the passporting of Scottish Child Payment from UC, meaning these families may face an income cut greater than £20-a-week; and
    • More than half a billion pounds a year will be removed from the Scottish economy, cutting support for some of the most deprived parts of the UK.

    SCoRSS is calling for the £20 weekly increase to Universal Credit to be made permanent.

  2. CAS Social Tariff Briefing
    Publication date:
    September 2021
  3. David Scott
    Publication date:
    September 2021

    This report, the second in a three-part series on UC during the pandemic, covers our clients’ experiences living on UC during the pandemic. Our research found that rising costs during the pandemic have pushed an already-too-low social security system to breaking point:

    • 67% of people surveyed said the UC payment they received was inadequate for their needs, with more than half of these people (55%) describing UC as ‘very inadequate’.
    • Over seven out of ten (71%) said the amount of UC they received was lower than they are used to living on.
    • More than a third (38%) said their outgoings had increased in the period before they had to claim for UC and now, with a majority (56%) reporting that their spending had gone up on necessities like heating and electricity (50%), food (40%), and housing costs aside from rent (27%).
    • Almost two in three (64%) had to cut down on at least one basic necessity during their UC claim, with one in five (20%) cutting down on food.
    • Over one in four (27%) had to borrow money in order to pay for essentials.

    With this in mind, the UK Government’s decision to cut UC by £20 a week in September is a step in the wrong direction. Our research found that:

    • Most said they would be unable to cope if their UC income dropped, with 61% unable to cope if it dropped by £10 per week, 74% unable to cope if it dropped by £20 per week, and 78% unable to cope if it dropped by £30 per week.
    • If these cuts went ahead, 26% said they would be unable to pay for essentials and 14% said they would be unable to buy food.

    The UK Government must urgently review and uprate the level of support UC offers to ensure no-one is left without essentials. Increasing UC is the right thing to do, both to protect individuals from hardship and to support our post-pandemic economic recovery.

  4. David Scott
    Publication date:
    September 2021

    The UK Government is proposing to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week from October 6th, reinstating it to pre-pandemic levels. CAS research shows that even with the increase, people on UC have struggled. Any cut will hurt people on UC and harm the government’s own Plan for Jobs and levelling up agenda.

    CAS recommends cancelling the cut and permanently increasing UC’s basic allowance.

  5. Impact Team
    Publication date:
    September 2021

    The Impact Team at Citizens Advice Scotland helps deliver the second aim of the Citizens Advice network in Scotland; taking the issues we see across our network and using that to inform policy advocacy to deliver social change for people.

    This impact report demonstrates how we achieved our key outcomes for 2020-21. 

    Spotlight:
  6. Publication date:
    September 2021

    Following CAS’ initial 2021 submission to the Low Pay Commission, we had further engagement from advisers in the Citizens Advice Bureau Network’s Employment Specialist Forum. Advisers shared additional insight and evidence from their frontline experience on issues for low paid workers, including:

    • Low pay and non-payment of statutory minimum wage rates
    • Furlough and Covid-19 changes
    • Social security
    • Enforcement of employment rights
  7. Publication date:
    September 2021

    Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) gathers evidence from the more than 171,000 clients a year supported by our network. Many of the problems faced by our clients are rooted in or linked to their incomes not being enough to meet their needs and live a dignified life. For many people coming to see us they simply do not have enough money to make ends meet: YouGov in May of this year indicated 1 in 7 Scots is struggling on their present income even with the temporary financial support measures put in place as a result of the pandemic. In fact, 56% or half a million pieces of advice provided by our network every year can be attributed to income maximisation. During the pandemic CABs unlocked £147million for people through things like social security payments, employment entitlements and lower bills for utilities. A Minimum Income Guarantee would mean the Citizens Advice network could ensure people have even more security and opportunity.

    This evidence base, from over 80 years as Scotland’s largest free, impartial and confidential advice network, gives CAS a unique understanding of the issues that IPPR proposes could be addressed by a Minimum Income Guarantee. In addition, our experience supporting clients over the course of the pandemic shows that even those who were coping before the crisis still found themselves vulnerable if their income dropped or costs went up even slightly.

  8. Publication date:
    August 2021

    Citizens Advice Scotland welcomes the positive changes made so far in the latest version of the regulations, but based on evidence from clients and advisers with experience of the current social security system, some concerns remain in a number of areas.

  9. Issue 6 of the Citizens Advice Scotland network magazine
    Publication date:
    August 2021
    Spotlight:
  10. Publication date:
    August 2021

    Statistical briefing on advice given and client demographics including comparison to SIMD data.

  11. Publication date:
    August 2021

    Briefing on paid staff and volunteers; types of services provided to compliment the generalist service; client gains; how clients contacted CAB and the work undertaken by CAB in addition to giving advice.

  12. Grace Remmington and Rebecca King
    Publication date:
    August 2021

    The Warm Home Discount scheme provides important funding for the short-term relief of fuel poverty. However, a combination of research and evidence from the Citizens Advice network in Scotland has previously found that while the Warm Home Discount is seen as vital by those who receive it, it is not adequately reaching those who need it most. This consultation proposes a number of potentially positive changes to the operation of the Warm Home Discount scheme, alongside a 4-year extension to March 2026.

    Spotlight:
  13. Publication date:
    August 2021

    In Scotland, 14% of all homes are privately-rented. The private rented sector has below average standards of repair and energy efficiency, having both the greatest proportion of properties with low Energy Performance Certificates and those failing to meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard.

    Informed by a review of recent literature and engagement with Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) and the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), CAS asked landlords, letting agents and estate managers a number of questions on energy efficiency to understand issues in the sector and what needs to be done to improve the energy efficiency of housing stock in the private rented sector.

    This report identifies issues and makes a series of recommendations as to how housing in the sector can be improved and provide tenants with warmer, better quality homes while reducing emissions as Scotland moves towards Net Zero.

  14. Aoife Deery
    Publication date:
    August 2021

    Over 50,000 pieces of housing advice were given out by the Citizens Advice network in Scotland between April 2020 and March 2021. In 2020-21, housing advice grew as a proportion of all advice, and the types of housing advice people were seeking also changed, compared to 2019-20.

    Our statistics suggest the COVID-19 pandemic, its associated restrictions and protective measures brought housing issues to the forefront, as people spent more time within the four walls of their home.

    Spotlight:
  15. Publication date:
    July 2021

    Between December 2020 and March 2021, the Scottish Government consulted on the first draft of new regulations for Adult Disability Payment (ADP). In June 2021, the Scottish Government published their response to this consultation. Citizens Advice Scotland welcomed encouraging signs in the latest government proposals, but CAS is calling for further change to get Adult Disability Payment right for disabled people in Scotland.

  16. Publication date:
    July 2021

    Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) warmly welcomes the increased payment of the Carer’s Allowance Supplement. CAS recommended that the Carer’s Allowance Supplement be doubled again, to provide additional financial support to carers, in our October 2020 response to the Social Security Committee’s COVID-19 inquiry and are pleased to see this recommendation taken forward by the Scottish Government.

    CAS believes the main purpose of carer’s social security payments should be to equally to compensate carers for income that would have been earned through employment, recognising the equal value of the work that is caring. Whilst there is more to be done to ensure that carers have the financial support they need and social security system they deserve, this further additional payment is a welcome step in the right direction.

  17. Publication date:
    July 2021

    CAS supports in principle Scottish Ministers having the ability to suspend payment of disability assistance in certain prescribed circumstances, particularly when it would prevent a claim being closed altogether. CAS welcome the safeguards introduced and have one recommendation as to how safeguarding could be improved.

    The absence provision to suspend can create particular difficulties for children whose parents separate, for example due to domestic violence, and the parent in receipt of the benefit is not the parent who has custody of the child. However, CAS hope this power will only be used in limited circumstances. CAS welcome that entitlement will be maintained in suspension cases prescribed.

  18. David Scott
    Publication date:
    July 2021

    This report, the first in a three-part series on UC during the pandemic, covers our clients’ experiences applying for UC and the circumstances that led them to seek advice from CAB. Our research found that, despite UC performing well under the strain of the pandemic in some respects, there is significant need for improvement, with many long-standing issues with its design causing stress, anxiety, and hardship:

    • Over 7 in 10 people (72%) found the application process for UC stressful.
    • More than a third (36%) encountered at least one problem during the application process, including problems gathering supporting evidence and dealing with UC’s digital-by-default design.
    • Nearly 3 in 10 (29%) found it difficult to get information on applying for UC, before they sought help from CAB.
    • Almost 1 in 4 (24%) reported that the information they found from DWP on applying for UC was unhelpful.
    • Almost half (47%) did not find it easy to contact the DWP.
    • Almost half (48%) said they had to borrow or take an advance to get through the five week wait.
    • Among clients that borrowed to get them through the five week waiting period, the majority (65%) said they will find it difficult to repay the loan.
    • Overall, less than half (41%) were satisfied with the default process of applying for UC, with 14% very dissatisfied.

    Our research highlights that difficulties with the application process are disproportionately encountered by older people, disabled people, single parents, and those who are currently unemployed or economically inactive. Making positive changes to these elements would increase the accessibility of social security for all.

  19. Publication date:
    July 2021

    In April 2021, Citizens Advice Scotland commissioned a survey of 1000 adults from YouGov. The survey was aimed at gauging consumer knowledge of, and engagement with the subjects of energy and water efficiency, climate change, and low carbon heating. The findings and analysis of this work are available in our Consumer Voices report which can be downloaded at the link below.

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  20. Emily Rice
    Publication date:
    July 2021

    The Energy Consumer Commission formed in July 2020. The Commission consists of representatives with a wealth of experience in national consumer advocacy, advice bodies, academia and local groups serving energy consumers in their communities. This consultation response to the Scottish Government’s draft Heat in Building Strategy was written by the Citizens Advice Scotland energy policy team, on behalf of the Energy Consumer Commission.

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