Citizens Advice Scotland have reminded the public of the support on offer across the country.
Research from a Scottish charity has warned the levels of demand for financial support and advice has again risen to levels seen during the first wave of the pandemic.
Data gathered by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has suggested the cost of living crisis across Britain is fuelling a new rush for information akin to the first weeks of the Covid-19 crisis in 2020.
The charity’s monthly data report for February 2022 reveals that the online advice page ‘Struggling to Pay Your Energy Bills’ saw a 127 per cent increase in views compared to February 2021, with the webpage now at its highest peak since April 2020.
Further to this, the webpage for ‘Get help with bills’ increased 40 per cent from January, and is at its highest peak since the end of March 2020.
CAS financial health spokesperson, Myles Fitt, said: “The cost of living crisis is squeezing household budgets to breaking point across the country. People are faced with a perfect storm of soaring prices and flat or falling incomes, and that perfect storm risks sweeping tens of thousands of people across Scotland into poverty, debt and destitution.
“What our latest data report shows is that even before the big rises in energy bills in April and inflation continuing to grow, people were already worried about dealing with the impact of the rising cost of living.
“We want to see more from policymakers to ease this crisis for people, but in the short term we would recommend anyone struggling with the cost of living to seek advice from the Citizens Advice network.”
Advice given out by Citizens Advice Bureaux across the country also saw increasing demand for advice around fuel debt, with a 13 per cent increase from January, and is up 104 per cent from February 2020.
In February 2022 CABs helped 21,828 clients with 87,734 pieces of advice, and the Advice for Scotland website had 222,725 users.
Myles Fitt added: “You can get advice from a local CAB, who offer free, impartial and confidential advice. Our advisers unlocked £147million for people last year through things like social security payments and employment entitlements. It’s a wraparound service too, so advisers can check a lot of different things for you, and it’s all done with empathy and understanding. We don’t judge, we just help.
“Meanwhile, if you’d rather go online our public advice site is used by hundreds of thousands of people a month, and our money map tool at www.moneymap.scot rounds up all your online options to increase your incomes and cut your costs.”