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Coronavirus / Citizens Advice Bureau sees rise in demand for employment and benefits advice

The number of people on Universal Credit benefits also continues to increase

Citizens Advice Bureau manager Karen Eunson. Photo: Shetland News

THE DEMAND for employment advice from the local Citizens Advice Bureau tripled when the coronavirus pandemic hit earlier this year.

It comes as a new high of people in Shetland are claiming universal credit benefits.

New figures show that as of August 1,168 people in Shetland were on the benefit – a number which has nearly doubled since before the start of lockdown.

Meanwhile over the whole 2019/20 financial year the Shetland Citizens Advice Bureau supported 1,868 individual clients across the isles.

It advised on 6,377 issues – 60 per cent of these related to benefits, 13 per cent to money and debt, and eight per cent to energy advice.

Advisers helped clients gain over £2.1 million, mostly through supporting them to make benefit applications and appeals, while they assisted 136 individuals to tackle over £1.1 million of debt.

The figures form part of Shetland Citizens Advice Bureau’s annual report which was approved at its AGM on Tuesday night.

Manager Karen Eunson said the branch remained open throughout lockdown, providing advice by phone, email and video call.

“We have a seen an increase in demand for benefits and employment advice and expect demand to increase as the economic impact of the pandemic hits,” she said.

“As CAB chair Fiona Robertson states in the introduction, ‘The need for our service continues to grow and Shetland CAB remains dedicated to supporting the people of Shetland’.”

Over the year 10,000-plus hours was donated by volunteers.

If anyone is interested in volunteering with the branch, contact Shetland CAB on 01595 694696 or email sicab@shetland.org.