“The cost of living crisis is having a serious impact on those who need support, with two recent reports from advice services highlighting not only an increased demand for their services but also a concern that some are still not seeking the help they need”, said Councillor Kenny MacLaren (SNP – Paisley Northwest).
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) have reported that their online advice page ‘Struggling to Pay Your Energy Bills’ saw a massive 127% increase in views compared to the previous year. Further advice services from CAS have also seen an increase of up to 104% in people seeking advice around fuel debt from Citizen Advice Bureaux across the country.
Conversely, in a response to the Scottish Parliament’s Social Justice and Social Security Committee, Advice Direct Scotland have highlighted that the impact of fuel price rises has seen a tidal wave of households forced to seek help with debts for the first time, but these households are appearing more reluctant to accept help due to the apparent stigma and shame tied to debt. Despite this, Advice Direct Scotland are stressing that there is no shame in people with debt problems seeking help to try to improve their situation.
Councillor Kenny MacLaren added:
“Both these reports are extremely worrying, with Citizens Advice Scotland highlighting a massive rise in demand for support while Advice Direct Scotland also claiming that some, particularly those needing help for the first time, are reluctant to accept help due to a perceived stigma that they are letting their families down.
“It’s an appalling situation for any individual or family to be in, and we must be clear that support from CAS, Advice Direct Scotland and even the council’s own Advice Works Service is essential in these extremely difficult times.
“Ordinary people don’t have the backing of Russian Oligarchs like the Tory politicians who have got us into this mess. Allowing the energy price cap to rise by a massive 54% will impact on almost everyone, and many will be forced into debt to tackle ever increasing fuel bills. In contrast, European countries like France and Germany have limited such increases to 4 and 5% respectively – so why hasn’t the UK Government?
“Scotland is an energy rich nation – which is still exporting our energy to other countries – yet our energy prices are rocketing due to a Westminster government that doesn’t give a damn about ordinary people.
“We need to make sure everyone feels that can approach the various advice services to get as much help as possible, but we also need swift action to tackle the excessive profits of the energy companies to stop this profiteering on the backs of ordinary families.”