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Publications

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    Spotlight:
  4. 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.

    Spotlight:
  5. Andrew Fraser
    Publication date:
    July 2021

    MPs debated delivery charges in the Highlands and Islands at Westminster on 8 June 2021. CAS has campaigned on this issue for a number of years - read CAS's briefing to MPs here.

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  6. Debbie Horne
    Publication date:
    June 2021

    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 adults in Scotland through Adult Disability Payment. 

  7. David Scott
    Publication date:
    June 2021

    This consultation response surveys the employment issues CAB clients have faced during the pandemic. 

    • During COVID-19, employment rose to the third most common advice need across the Citizens Advice Scotland network, with spikes in advice on redundancy and dismissal.
    • Many frontline low paid workers have seen their working conditions worsen as a result of insecure contracts and fire and hire tactics during the pandemic. Better pay and conditions for these essential roles must be a cornerstone of the recovery, valuing their contribution by allowing workers a decent standard of living, financial resilience, and job security. Moreover, higher wages offer more disposable income to be spent in local communities, supporting demand.
    • The pandemic has raised the cost of living for those on low-pay, with the extra time spent at home leading to increased food and utilities bills. Workers receiving the National Living Wage (NLW) still face budgeting struggles, through a combination of high costs, low wages, and limited and unpredictable social security support.
    • CAB cases show evidence of employers in low-paid sectors being non-compliant in other areas, even if they are paid NLW or higher, including unpaid holiday and sick pay. Much of this non-compliance has taken place within the furlough scheme, making it harder for workers to determine how their employment rights are being breached.
    • The pandemic and Brexit have hit tourism and hospitality particularly hard, where many roles will be low-paid. Brexit is also having an additional impact on EU nationals who advisers tell us may now face difficulties accessing social security they are entitled to.
    • We warmly welcome the decision to lower the age threshold of the NLW and would recommend that in future different rates for different ages are abolished altogether.
    • We also welcome the increase to NLW and other minimum rates but hope they can be raised further to at least meet the level of the independently-calculated voluntary Living Wage.
    • The Government’s recommitment to a single enforcement body is to be welcomed, but this work must be prioritised and well-funded in order to achieve its aims.
    Spotlight:
  8. Andrew Fraser
    Publication date:
    June 2021

    The Stronger Communities team has responded to Ofcom's call for inputs on it's review of postal regulation from 2022 onwards. 

    As the statutory advocate for postal consumers in Scotland, CAS believes that there are particular issues that need to be addressed during the review period that are affecting consumers and SMEs. This includes the affordability of services, the quality of service and the impact of location-based surcharging and refusal to deliver in the parcel market. 

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  9. Andrew Fraser
    Publication date:
    June 2021

    This report, based on qualitative research carried out by Progressive Partnership Ltd during Autumn 2020, explores the issues experienced by vulnerable groups accessing postal services in Scotland. The report also examines the impact of COVID on postal services and makes recommendations based on the research findings.

    An executive summary of our findings is available below, along with the full report. 

     

    Spotlight:
  10. Publication date:
    May 2021
  11. Publication date:
    May 2021

    Scotland’s Citizens Advice network empowers people in every corner of Scotland through our local bureaux and national services by providing free, confidential, and independent advice. We use peoples’ real-life experiences to influence policy and drive positive change. We are on the side of people in Scotland who need help, and we change lives for the better.

    Our 2021/22 Impact work plan outlines the areas where we will be working to secure changes on behalf of our network’s clients. It has been drawn together following extensive analysis of advice data and consultative workshops with representatives from the network to identify significant trends and areas of concern.

  12. Quarterly statistics on a selection of housing advice codes
    Aoife Deery
    Publication date:
    May 2021
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  13. Aoife Deery and Emily Rice
    Publication date:
    May 2021

    Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are the lifeblood of Scotland’s economy. What options do they have in the energy market? This paper is meant to provide a baseline for the SME engagement with the decarbonisation agenda and energy market, on which future research and engagement can be built.

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  14. How to use bodies who deliver public services in Scotland
    Tracey Reilly
    Publication date:
    May 2021

    In 2016 Scotland was selected to join the Open Government Partnership (‘OGP’), an international collaboration of over 90 governments across the world committed to three key principles: openness, transparency and public involvement. As part of membership to this partnership programme, the Scottish Government, together with civic society partners, has developed recently been focused on delivering Scotland’s second National Action Plan 2018-20.  A key commitment under this plan has been “to improve access to the accountability of public services”.

    Supported by the Scottish Government and in collaboration with key partners to this commitment, CAS has produced a booklet explaining how to raise a concern or complaint about a public service in Scotland. It explains how to use public bodies like:           

    The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

    The Care Inspectorate

    The Scottish Information Commissioner and

    Audit Scotland

    as well as providing more information on how to make Freedom of Information requests.

    This booklet follows on from earlier research that CAS undertook on behalf of partners to the commitment, which sought to explore levels of understanding and awareness of members of the public of accountability of public services (hyperlinked here from CAS website) in Scotland.  The research found low levels of knowledge of regulatory bodies. CAS hopes that by producing this booklet, we can provide clearer information on how the public can engage with public services in Scotland, particularly if they wish to raise a concern or question a decision. We hope that by providing this information we can generate greater awareness of the accountability bodies that operate in Scotland and enable people to engage more confidently with them.

    Related work on Scotland's National Open Government  Action Plan 2018-20: Commitment 4 Improving Access to Accountability of Public Services: Peoples & Stakeholder Engagement Final Report and Recommendations July 2020 is also available here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/scotlands-second-national-open-government-action-plan-2018-20-commitment-4-improving-access-accountability-public-services-public-stakeholder-engagement/

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  15. Building Social Security Back Post-Pandemic
    David Scott
    Publication date:
    May 2021

    The last year has shown the vital importance of our social security safety net. However, Universal Credit (UC) is unlikely to feature in the Government’s legislative agenda tomorrow. This risks missing lessons from the pandemic. While UC survived the influx of new claimants—in part by easing verification procedures and conditionality—fundamental aspects of its design have continued to put people in hardship. Reform is urgently needed so people have security and support as furlough is withdrawn and the economy reopens.

    CAS is calling for:

    › A review of UC’s adequacy as an in- and out-of-work benefit, with the £20 a week uplift made permanent

    › Restoration of Work Allowances for all people on UC and a review of the Taper Rate

    › The continued suspension of the Minimum Income Floor, with permanent changes to how self-employed income is assessed for UC going forward

    › The introduction of a non-repayable assessment period payment to replace the current five week wait and Advance Payment system

    › The ending of sanctions and unaffordable deductions

    › Wider access to offline options for making and maintaining a UC claim and the introduction of implicit consent for CAB and other welfare rights advisers

    › A fair, flexible, and safe transition to UC for those on legacy benefits, with an extension of the uplift and freedom to return to legacy benefits if UC entitlement is lower

  16. Citizens Advice Scotland response to a Scottish Government Consultation
    Tracey Reilly
    Publication date:
    April 2021

    Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has responded to a Scottish Government consultation, which proposes changes to the way complaints about legal professionals are handled. CAS broadly supports the proposals, but has concerns about proposed changes to the threshold for eligibility of complaints and about proposals which would affect when a complaint can be treated as closed without the complainer's agreement. 

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  17. Citizens Advice Scotland response to a consultation by the Scottish Civil Justice Council
    Sarah McDermott
    Publication date:
    April 2021

    Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has responded to a consultation by the Scottish Civil Justice Council. The consultation sought views on recent Rule changes which made use of Civil Online Mandatory for Simple Procedure cases.

    CAS's work on Access to Justice issues aims to ensure that consumers can access legal services and make effective and informed choices about legal issues. We support the development of new and simplified ways of accessing Court services. However, this must not come at the expense of channel choice. We have concerns that the Rule change may have had the effect of excluding party litigants and unrepresented people from the system. We would therefore support additional efforts to ensure inclusivity for those who are digitally excluded. We also have a number of wider suggestions to make in relation to potential reform of the Rules.  

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  18. Publication date:
    April 2021
  19. Water Policy Team
    Publication date:
    March 2021

    During 2020-21, CAS commissioned Keep Scotland Beautiful to undertake research to better understand why some properties in a localised area in Edinburgh were not properly connected to the mains sewerage, and could potentially be impacting bathing water quality.

    This report highlighted that most home owners whose sewerage is misconnected to the surface water runoff system are unaware of the issue, therefore unless a misconnection is identified, nothing will be done to rectify the issue. Yet, for those interviewed, there was clearly a concern that a misconnection could have a detrimental impact upon the environment.

    Identifying and rectifying misconnections in Scotland poses a significant challenge for relevant authorities.

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  20. Manifesto by SCoRSS
    Publication date:
    March 2021

    The Scottish Campaign for Rights to Social Security (SCoRSS) believe it is time for a social security system that prevents poverty, treats people with dignity and respect and supports everyone to flourish.

    However, access to and experience of social security are greatly affected by deeply ingrained inequalities that ensure that groups including women, disabled people, Black and minority ethnic people and others are even more affected by poverty, insecurity and exclusion.

    The members of the Scottish Campaign on Rights to Social Security (SCoRSS) believe five fundamental principles underpin the real change required to achieve this vision.

    We must work together to:

    • „  Increase social security payment rates to a level where no one is left in poverty and all have sufficient income to lead a dignified life;

    • „  Make respect for human rights and dignity the cornerstone of UK and Scottish social security;

    • „  Radically simplify social security to ensure it is easy to access and that barriers to entitlement are removed;

    • „  Invest in the support needed to enable everyone to participate fully in society; and

    • „  Make social security work for Scotland.

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