Accessing help for cost of living
New website provides ‘one stop shop’ for advice and information.
A new website providing information on the wide range of advice and financial support available to people in Scotland has been launched.
Developed by the Scottish Government as a ‘one stop shop’ to help those struggling with the cost of living crisis, the website includes information on help available for households to meet rising energy, housing and other costs.
It also provides details on accessing Scottish and UK social security payments, including online benefit calculators, as well as wider health and wellbeing information.
A Programme for Government 2022-23 commitment, it will be supported by a nationwide media campaign to raise awareness of the website and signpost people impacted by rising costs to the help available.
The website was launched by Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison during a visit to debt help service in Tollcross, Edinburgh, run by charity Christians Against Poverty.
Shona Robison yesterday said:
“I know that people are struggling with the cost of living crisis right now and may not know where to turn for help. Our cost of living website is a trustworthy online resource with information on the wide range of vital support available.
“No one should feel alone in this crisis and this website, along with our campaign, aims to encourage people to find out if they are eligible for the extensive support available to access the advice they need. We want everyone to get all the financial support and help that is available so I would encourage people to apply for the payments they are entitled to – it might be just the lifeline that is needed right now.
“We have allocated almost £3 billion in this financial year to contribute towards mitigating the increased cost of living crisis and the new website highlights the wide range of support at hand. Our package spans a range of support, for energy bills, childcare, health and travel, as well as social security payments that are not available anywhere else in the UK. The website is an important signpost towards them all.
“The cost of living crisis is impacting every household in the UK and the Scottish Government will continue to do everything within its powers and finite budget to ensure people are supported as far as possible.”
Scotland National Director for Christians Against Poverty, Emma Jackson, yesterday said:
“We are deeply concerned about the impact of rising costs on low income households. Even before rising costs, over a third (36%) of CAP clients had to borrow to meet essential living costs and we know the consequences of problem debt can be devastating for people.
“The new cost of living website from the Scottish Government is a welcome step in helping people to find and access all the vital support that is available to them, including steps to maximise income. People need to know help is available. Now, more than ever, we need to take every action possible to support households who are being hit the hardest by the cost of living crisis.”
Claire (not her real name) is a single parent from Edinburgh who experienced problem debt after her son was born prematurely. She spent a lot of time at the hospital and his health and wellbeing was her primary focus. Due to the stress of this situation she wasn’t able to manage bills or work to earn money and debts began to mount.
Claire’s debt had a significant impact on her mental health. She lived in fear of debt collectors coming to the door and hid the letters in a drawer as she didn’t know how she would be able to pay them. She felt ashamed and embarrassed and for a long time she didn’t know where to turn.
Problem debt had such an impact on Claire’s mental health that she tried to take her own life twice. Claire heard about Christians Against Poverty through her local foodbank and once she met her debt coach she felt like a weight had been lifted and she was able to laugh again. She felt like CAP was her safe place and her befriender became like a mother to her.
Claire was able to go debt free in December 2021, however, she is still struggling on a low income. She already has to travel quite far to shop around and find the cheapest items. She is worried about how she will be able to keep going with rising costs.
She yesterday explained:
“It’s unbelievable what things cost at the moment, it’s all gone up so much – food, electric, clothes for my son. It all costs so much and right now, I just don’t know how I am going to afford it all. I’ve worked hard to get back on track with my finances, but there isn’t enough to pay for all of these essential things that I need for my son. I don’t want to be in debt again.”
The new website address is http://gov.scot/costoflivingsupport
The media campaign will run across TV, radio, outdoor and digital channels, encouraging people to visit the site for information on help and support available.
CAP Scotland provides free, FCA accredited debt help through their network of 26 Debt Centres across Scotland. To access their help call 0800 328 0006 or visit capscotland.org.
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