The Citizens Advice network in Scotland helped 19,554 people in December, as concerns around debt and benefits continued amid Covid-19 restrictions, according to new data released today.
The network has warned that demand shows no signing of letting up with rising demand for advice about fuel debt flagged as particularly worrying.
December also saw 287,757 views of the Advice for Scotland public advice website, a 47 per cent increase on December 2019. The network has seen a 13 per cent increase in the proportion of debt advice relating to fuel debts coming as Scotland enters a second lockdown in the coldest months of the year. Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has warned that that fuel debt will be a contributing part of the “tsunami of debt” on the horizon as lockdown eventually eases.
There was also second monthly increase in the proportion of Finance and Charitable Support advice relating to food banks, which in December was more than 43 per cent of advice in that category.
The network has also seen demand for other forms of immediate support rise with advice relating to Scottish Welfare Fund Crisis Grants increasing both as a proportion of all benefits advice and in absolute terms in December.
The data is contained in the latest data report from CAS.
CAS Strong Communities spokesperson Gillian Fyfe said:
“The growing demand for advice over the past few months underlines that many people continue to struggle this winter and communities in Scotland need support across the board to help them through this pandemic.
“Even taking into account the festive period, the network still helped almost 20,000 people across a range of issues, such as debt and social security, as well as growing demand for energy advice, particularly around fuel debt.
“In light of the cold weather and the rising proportion of clients accessing information about energy bills it is a reminder of how important it is that free, independent, and impartial advice continues to be delivered in communities throughout Scotland.
“The growth in website views compared to December 2019 shows a growing number of people are turning to our online advice to self-help. That’s heartening, as we want to reach as many people as possible with our advice given the impact Covid-19 is having across the country.”