AS THE economic consequences of the coronavirus start to put a severe strain on many people’s household finances the local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is reassuring concerned islanders that it is here to help.
Research published on Wednesday shows that 43 per cent of people in the Highlands and Islands are concerned about their household finances while 53 per cent of parents in Scotland with 12-16 year olds say the pandemic is already having a negative effect on their finances.
Even in relatively affluent Shetland local foodbanks register extra demand while more and more people are applying for universal credit.
On Wednesday the Scottish Government and the citizens advice network launched a new campaign that aims to raise awareness of the financial support available to people across the country, including Shetland.
This is part of a £350 million Scottish Government funding packing to ensure that local authorities, community groups and the third sector are able to help people in need.
The campaign provides information and advice on issues including rent and mortgage payments, energy bills, council tax, and benefits people may be entitled to.
Shetland CAB manager Karen Eunson, said the bureau was offering a full advice service over the phone, and by email.
“The Covid-19 outbreak has presented real challenges for local people and Shetland CAB is still here to serve the community and ensure people get the advice they need.
“This pandemic is an anxious time for everyone, while Covid-19 is a public health emergency, it’s a huge economic challenge too, and people have been coming to us with concerns about employment, housing and benefits during this period.
“Our message to people who are struggling is simple – your local Citizens Advice Bureau is here to help.”
Her words were echoed by the council’s deputy leader Emma MacDonald who is also a member of the Integration Joint Board which overlooks social and health care in the islands.
“Every one of us is currently facing different challenges and for a lot of us money will be a major worry. We are already seeing extra demand on our local foodbanks, and more folk than normal are having to look for support through things like universal credit,” she said.
“That is something new for Shetland. However, it is important that you get the help you need; you are not alone and it is okay to ask for help.
“Our local CAB service moved quickly to change the way they work and continues to provide advice and support to folk across the isles by phone and by email.”
Those who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and require free, confidential, financial support, can contact Shetland CAB by phoning 01595 694696 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Self-help advice is available on www.cas.org.uk and there is also the national Scottish Citizens Advice Helpline on 0800 028 145.
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