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Demand for fuel voucher and emergency credit advice soared over the winter


Country's CABs unlock £3 million for clients

Scotland’s Citizens Advice bureax (CABs) saw a large increase in demand around fuel vouchers and emergency credit for prepayment meters last winter, new data published reveals.

From November 2023 through to the end of January 2024, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) ran a winter energy campaign called Worried this Winter? encouraging anyone who was worried about energy bills to seek support from the network.

In total, 17,109 clients received 53,816 pieces of energy-specific advice. In specific areas, CAS observed these trends compared to the previous year’s campaign:

  • the need for ‘pre-payment meter - discretionary credit’ advice increased by 64% and the client numbers increased by 82%,
  • need for ‘trust fund applications / fuel vouchers’ advice increased by 41% and the client numbers increased by 41%,
  • need for ‘changing tariffs with existing supplier’ advice increased by 29% and the client numbers increased by 28%,
  • need for ‘smart metres’ advice increased by 19% and the client numbers increased by 22%
  • and need for ‘priority services register’ advice increased by 10% and client numbers increased by 12%.

During the campaign period, 4,762 clients who received energy-related advice achieved gains - both energy related and otherwise - of more than £3 million. For those who saw a gain from energy advice alone, that figure was £1.4m.

Emma Jakson, social justice spokesperson at Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “As households faced the worst cost of living crisis in memory the Citizens Advice network has been here to help people with free, impartial, and confidential advice.

“What makes the CAB network special is that it’s wraparound service. CABs will help people through all their problems with advice, rather than helping someone with one issue, and then sending them somewhere else for another problem.

“People don’t face the challenge of higher energy bills in a vacuum, they face them alongside soaring food bills, housing payments and stagnant incomes. CABs help people with all these issues.

“That’s what we see with these figures - £1.4m unlocked through energy gains over the winter, but when we consider all gains from energy clients that figure more than doubles to £3m – that’s the impact of our wraparound advice.

“We can also observe some worrying trends in the specifics of our advice data – such an increase in emergency support for people on prepayment meters and fuel voucher applications.

“Policymakers need to be clear – the cost of living crisis isn’t over, and it will not be for quite some time. Lots of this advice demand is down to people having their financial resilience simply wiped out by months of higher bills.

“CABs deliver life-changing, and in some case life-saving, results for people but the facing a tidal wave of demand with nowhere near the capacity or resources they need. This campaign shows the results CABs get and should encourage change from policy-makers in terms of the level of support CABs receive and also in terms of public policy, like a social tariff for consumers on lower incomes.”



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about 1 month ago

How do they keep arriving at these numbers?