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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Long-term funding vital as services come under increasing pressure

 

Call was made to Holyrood committee

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is calling for longer-term funding as its members’ services come under increasing pressure from the public.

More people are seeking free advice from Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) with March 2023 seeing record breaking demand for the network.

CAS made the plea in a submission to Holyrood’s Finance and Public Administration Committee’s pre-budget scrutiny call for evidence.

In its submission, it states: “CAS would strongly argue for the protection and prioritisation of funding for advice services over this period (until 2027). The current cost of living crisis will cast a long shadow and leave a significant legacy of debt which will require people to have access to confidential, impartial and free advice.

“The value of the advice the Citizens Advice network provides is significant. Last year the network unlocked £132 million for people through things like social security payments and employment entitlements.

“On average, one in six people who seek advice see a financial gain, the average value of which is over £4,200.”

It adds: “It’s not just that CABs are dealing with more cases, they are dealing with more complex cases with clients often presenting at crisis point. Advisers at our Extra Help Unit have had suicide prevention training because of the nature of the cases they are dealing with during this crisis.

“That takes a toll and is made all the more draining when your own job security is only guaranteed year to year. Too often advice agencies find themselves issuing redundancy notices to their own staff because there isn’t security of funding.

“It isn’t morally acceptable, or economically optimal, for advisers helping people with employment rights and income maximisation to be unsure of their own job security and income every single year.”

CAS chief executive Derek Mitchell said: “It’s not just that CABs are dealing with more cases, they are dealing with more complex cases with clients often presenting at crisis point.

“That takes a toll and is made all the more draining when your own job security is only guaranteed year to year. Too often advice agencies find themselves issuing redundancy notices to their own staff because there isn’t security of funding.

“It isn’t morally acceptable, or economically optimal, for advisers helping people with employment rights and income maximisation to be unsure of their own job security and income every single year.

“Services are currently underfunded versus demand, and this demand will not end once the cost-of-living crisis headlines do.  

“We recognise there is pressure on budgets, however CABs are facing a tidal wave of demand and the outcomes advisers deliver are second to none. Last year one in six people who sought advice saw a financial gain, the average value of which was over £4,200.

“That’s life changing money for people having to choose between putting the heating on and putting food on the table. There’s no capability issue with CABs, but there is a growing capacity concern. Multi-year, flexible funding, ensuring CABs have the security on flexibility to deliver for people, would make a massive difference.”

 

Comments

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David Hansen
4 months ago

Having volunteered as a trainee telephone adviser for CAB, before Covid stopped that, I know the huge variety of issues CAB deal with, some emotionally very draining, and the great income maximisation they are able to deliver for some people.

Politicians are elected for five year terms and know what money they will have coming in for that time. In an ideal world some third sector organisations, which are at least as vital to the public as politicians, would be funded over a similar timeframe . Even 2-3 year rolling funding would provide the stability that is needed to deliver ever more work.