Community / Energy queries up 99 per cent on last year, says local Citizens Advice Bureau

There have also been increases in benefit and debt advice as the cost-of-living crisis continues

From left to right: Shetland CAB manager Karen Eunson, chair Fiona Robertson, Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart. Photo: Sarah Cooper/Shetland News

RECENT figures released at Shetland’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) AGM yesterday (Thursday) state that there has been a 45 per cent increase in referrals to the service amidst the cost of living crisis.

There has also been a 99 per cent increase in energy advice as bills increase.

Shetland CAB chair Fiona Robertson chair said: “The pressure on Shetland CAB has always been big.

“We’re the only service that provides advice to the extent that we do because we cover everything.

“But we’ve seen our numbers go up dramatically. There’s been a 45 per cent increase in the number of people we’re helping this year.”

Shetland CAB has been providing advice and support since 1992, and helps people with benefit, energy, housing, and money advice.

After last night’s AGM staff, volunteers and guests marked the branch’s 30th anniversary.

Robertson said: “We had 13 individuals approach us about fuel debt in the first seven months of last year, and we’ve had 92 this year. It’s a huge increase.” 


She added that the cost of living crisis is affecting not just people on benefits, but those in low-income jobs, people who work part-time, and those with families. 

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart called energy bills “eye-watering” and ‘unsustainable”.

She added: “We’ve already got high levels of fuel poverty here and it’s only going to get worse. 

“We are in constant contact with energy companies trying to find resolutions for people, but it’s been a real struggle.” 

Karen Eunson, manager at Shetland CAB, said: “We’re seeing an increase in demand generally, specifically the demand for energy advice.

“We’re seeing an increase in people requesting benefits checks to see if they are missing any entitlement.” 

Shetland CAB can support people in applying for additional benefits if they are missing out on ones they are entitled to, which can see people getting increased weekly payments.

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“Across the CAB network in Scotland, we’re expecting a huge increase in demand over winter and we’re trying to anticipate how to manage that demand,” Eunson added.

CAB currently aims to respond within ten days when they get a query through, but this could increase over winter as demand for these services rises.

Eunson said: “We’re very concerned about the impact it’s going to have. Folk are already struggling, and it’s hard to see how that can be resolved.” 

Malcolm Ferguson, the longest standing volunteer advisor at Shetland CAB, said people will question whether to ‘heat or eat’ as energy prices increase over the winter months.

He said: “I do worry that we’re going to run into problems with not being able to help people as we should, just because we can’t.” 


Wishart spoke at last night’s event in Lerwick and said: “People come to CAB knowing they will be listened to, and for non-judgemental support. If it didn’t already exist, we’d have to invent it.”

Members of the public can contact Shetland CAB directly for free and impartial advice via its website.

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