A two-year action research project funded by the Money Advice Service and the Improvement Service sets out the first comprehensive overview of the provision of money advice services across Scotland’s councils in over a decade.
The report highlights the prime role that local authorities play within the money advice sector – both in terms of direct provision and through services commissioned and paid for by councils for delivery by other partners, principally Citizens Advice Bureaux. The estimated value of local authorities’ investment in money advice services is in the region of £20m per annum. £8.2m is spent in-house and £11.8m is outsourced. There are around 180 FTE in-house staff. 19 councils have a mix of services, 11 outsource completely and 2 operate solely in-house.
The research highlights a series of challenges confronting the money advice sector, including rising demand. The major drivers of increased demand for money advice services include:-
• the ongoing impact of the recession /’credit crunch’;
• the consequences of the rise of payday lending and other less affordable forms of credit provision;
• the significant levels of poverty and inequalities that continue to exist across Scotland; and
The report includes a number of recommendations; some concerning ‘system-wide’ issues and some focused on improvement areas that individual Councils may wish to focus on.
The Executive Summary can be viewed here.