Scots urged to seek financial benefits they are entitled to

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A new campaign has been launched to help people in West Scotland struggling financially get support and access the benefits they are entitled to.

The campaign comes as a survey reveals that nearly one in four – 24 per cent – Scots living in West Scotland wouldn’t feel comfortable receiving any type of financial benefits or grants, even if they were eligible, and seeks to address the stigma people may have around claiming benefits.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by the Scottish Government, also found that many people in West Scotland were concerned about being judged by others for receiving benefits, with 16 per cent saying they were concerned about being judged for receiving Universal Credit and seven per cent for receiving Child Tax Credits.

These results indicate there may be people in West Scotland who are eligible for financial support, whether that be benefits or grants, but aren’t taking the help that’s available because of how others may perceive them for doing so.

The survey comes as the Scottish Government launches a dedicated website – www.moneysupport.scot – to help those experiencing financial difficulties find the support they need. The Money Support Scotland website contains information and contact details for a range of organisations able to provide information on benefits people could be eligible for, where to go for free and impartial debt advice and how to apply for affordable credit.

The Money Support Scotland campaign is working in partnership with Citizens Advice Scotland and Advice Direct Scotland, which both help people understand what benefits they might be entitled to and how to apply for them.

The Citizens Advice network in Scotland offers free, impartial and confidential advice, with trained advisers able to help explain how people can maximise their income through benefits and grants, cut costs and help manage debt. Its Money Map tool helps people check which benefits and grants they might be entitled to, as well as eligibility for council tax reductions and support with housing and energy costs. Advice Direct Scotland also provide financial advice and offer a free benefit calculator on their website.

Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Derek Mitchell said: ‘People shouldn’t feel uncomfortable about accessing the support they are entitled to. That’s how the welfare state works – we all pay in and get support when we need it. That’s what the money is there for and after the past few years people should be confident about getting the payments they are due.

‘The reality is people are facing a perfect storm this winter of rising bills and falling incomes, so maximising your income and getting all the money you are entitled to is really important to help with bills and spending.

‘Citizens Advice Scotland is proud to partner with the Scottish Government on this important campaign to ensure people get the help they need this winter. The Citizens Advice network can give people help in a variety of ways and during the pandemic we unlocked around £147 million for people through things like social security payments, employment entitlements and debt reductions.’

There’s a wide range of support available to Scots of all ages from one-off payments to help with the cost of school uniforms to ongoing support with living costs. To find out where to seek advice on accessing the range of financial support available, visit www.moneysupport.scot.