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Spotlight on: Social Security benefits

CAS believes that aspects of UK welfare changes will be damaging to Scotland’s people, services, and economy. 

Welfare reform, public service cuts, and the economic climate are combining to place enormous pressure on public services and advice services. On top of this, reductions in benefit levels and eligibility will inevitably drive demand for advice provision at the same time as cuts are being felt across the public and voluntary sectors. Local government and voluntary services may have to pick up the pieces for those affected by welfare reform – all on a shrinking budget.

As client issues with welfare also create problems in many other areas of life including debt, housing, consumer and relationship issues, we expect welfare reform changes to put exceptional pressure on advice services and other areas of the third sector across the country. Early intervention, such as good advice, ultimately saves money – debt and welfare advice is significantly cheaper than homelessness and bankruptcy, and the social outcomes for clients are far better. Local authorities, the Scottish CAB Service and other organisations across the third and public sectors have a shared agenda in helping local people avoid crisis point and are increasingly working in partnership to achieve positive outcomes for the people and communities of Scotland.


  1. 15 Jun 2018

    Citizens Advice Scotland has responded to the National Audit Office report on Universal Credit.

  2. 11 Jun 2018

    Author - Rob Gowans, CAS Policy Officer

    Last week the Work and Pensions Secretary made a written statement to Parliament on Universal Credit (UC) which marked some important evolutions in government policy. The key points relate to the transitional protection for clients who are moving from legacy benefits to UC.

    Ministers have often said that these claimants will be protected from any drop in income by ‘transitional protection’. However CAS and CABs have recently been highlighting the losses already being suffered by clients as a result of changes of circumstances, which in full service areas means a move to UC.

  3. 26 Apr 2018

    Article by Rory Mair,

    Chair, Citizen s Advice Scotland

    (published in the Scotsman newspaper following the passing of the Social Security Bill by the Scottish Parliament on 25/04/18).


  1. Public Accounts Committee inquiry
    Olive Hill

    Publication date: July 2018

    CAS published the Learning from Testing Times evidence report which looked in detail at the experience of the first year of Universal Credit roll out through citizens advice bureaux feedback. There have been a few welcome changes since then, e.g. removal of the seven day waiting period, which have ameliorated some aspects of the negative impacts. However cases currently being handled by bureaux show a range of issues causing difficulties for clients.

  2. Scottish Government consultation
    Rob Gowans

    Publication date: June 2018

    Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) welcomes the opportunity to comment on the proposals for Best Start Foods and Vitamins to replace the current Healthy Start system when powers are devolved. Citizens advice bureaux in Scotland provide advice on eligibility and claiming Healthy Start Vouchers to help clients maximise their income, alongside providing advice on claiming benefits that ‘passport’ people into eligibility for the vouchers, such as Universal Credit and Income Support.

  3. Ruth Mendel

    Publication date: June 2018

    In general, CAS welcomes this benefit and the potential improvements for applicants, particularly in terms of a less intrusive, simpler process and faster payment. We also welcome the Scottish Government committing to uprate the benefit annually, as this is an important step that will prevent the benefit further losing value. However, the 'other costs' element of the benefit has been frozen at £700 since 2003 and CAB advisers frequently see clients who cannot afford to provide a dignified funeral for their loved one.

  4. Rob Gowans

    Publication date: June 2018

    In general, CAS welcomes the introduction of this benefit, and the expansion from the current Sure Start Maternity Grant to include payments at the time of children starting nursery and school where parents will incur additional costs. We also welcome increases to the value of the payment compared with the current system. 

    In 2016/17, Scotland’s CAB network advised clients on 1,009 new issues related to the Sure Start Maternity Grant.

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