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Funding extension for advice services

Published: 7 Oct 2016 10:00

More than £6 million for projects across Scotland.

Successful projects that have helped people cope with issues such as debt, mortgage worries and benefit problems will continue thanks to £6 million of funding.

The Scottish Government has provided £4.1 million, with £2.35 million coming from the Money Advice Service.

The funding will support 102 projects across a number of jointly-funded advice programmes, which provided a range of advice and information, managed by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB).

The programmes were set up between October 2012 and October 2014 to provide additional help for people in Scotland facing debt and other problems following the economic downturn and the UK Government's changes to the welfare system.

Between April 2015 and March 2016, the projects provided help to 28,000 people with 45,000 different issues, securing client financial gain of £31 million.

Announcing the extension of funding, Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said:

"People who are struggling with debt or face losing their home are some of the most vulnerable in our society, and are often the ones who we need to help most.

"Too many don't know who to turn to for help, making an already difficult situation worse, but what this money does is make that help available and accessible, and hopefully eases the burden they face.

"The funding shows the Scottish Government recognising the need for advice, support and information being made as accessible as possible to those who need it, and by continuing to fund these projects which generate significant benefits for those who use them, we have increased our investment in advice and advocacy services as we strive to tackle inequality and achieve social justice in Scotland."

Sheila Wheeler, Director of Debt Advice at the Money Advice Service, said:

"The Scottish Legal Aid Board performs a crucial role managing an important set of debt advice projects throughout Scotland on behalf of MAS and the Scottish Government.

"We know that more than one in ten people in Scotland are over-indebted and SLAB's work to manage the provision of high-quality advice and support to communities across the country is vital to reducing this figure.

"We are delighted to have been able to agree an extension to the funding of their work with our partners at the Scottish Government."

Colin Lancaster, Chief Executive of SLAB, added:

"The continued backing for these projects highlights the success of the joint funding approach taken by the Scottish Government and Money Advice Service.

"These projects work with people at crucial times in their lives, whether that's providing advice to people in rent arrears that may help them avoid eviction or supporting people to challenge decisions on their benefits to make sure that they are receiving the income they are entitled to.

"These projects often work with people who are financially excluded and with people who are vulnerable, such as those affected by domestic abuse or with disabilities. This makes a significant contribution to tackling inequalities in our society."

Notes to editors

Period: Dec 2012 –Aug 2016**

New Clients

79,252

New Matters

118,214

Number of Matters Closed

81,139

Client Financial Gain

£75,757,134.00

**During this four year period new programmes came on stream at different times so figures provided don't reflect full four years of full activity.