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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. 6 Jan 2021

    by Debbie Horne, CAS Senior Policy officer (Social Justice).

    This column was first published in the Herald on 6 January. 

  2. 26 Dec 2020

    Citizens Advice Scotland has published its summary of advice issued for the last financial year.

  3. 7 Oct 2020

    by Mhoraig Green, CAS Strategic Lead on Social Justice.

    This article was first published in the Herald on 7 October 2020.


  1. David Scott

    Publication date: January 2021

    MP Briefing in support of 18 January Opposition motion to keep the £20 a week UC uplift.

    An unprecedented number of people have claimed UC for the first time since March, with the total number of UC recipients in Scotland doubling since January 2020 to 475,000 people. At the start of the pandemic, CAS welcomed the UK Government increasing UC payments by £20 a week – an annual increase of £1,040. CAS now recommends that the £20 increase to Universal Credit is made permanent in the Spring Budget.

  2. David Scott

    Publication date: January 2021

    In this submission CAS sets out two much needed policy actions that must be included in the Budget. The first is to ensure that Universal Credit (UC) is maintained at an adequate level to effectively fulfil its function as a vital safety net and public service. Making the £20 a week increase permanent is the first step to ensuring that UC can meet the needs of the increasing number of people relying on UC. The second is to allow UC to become a better tool for recovery and support more people into work when the economy can open back up, as well as those already in work and claiming UC.

  3. David Scott

    Publication date: January 2021

    CAS recommends the £20 a week increase to UC is made permanent.

    If the uplift is removed, it will have the following impacts:

    • People across Scotland on Universal Credit will face a significant income shock and be pushed into poverty.
    • Financial hardship will be exacerbated, with wider health and economic impacts.
    • Those already struggling will be hardest hit. An additional 1 in 6 Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) clients in complex debt will be pushed into an income crisis.
  4. Debbie Horne

    Publication date: December 2020

    In 2018-19, the Citizens Advice network helped over 270,000 clients in Scotland with almost 750,000 advice issues. With support from the network, clients had financial gains of over £131 million and our self-help website Advice in Scotland received approximately 3.7 million views.

    The Citizens Advice network issued 311,714 pieces of advice on benefit issues, the single largest area of advice for the network in 2018-19. Since February this year the network has provided over 85,000 pieces of advice on Universal Credit alone.

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