Citizens Advice is to receive £9.5 million of “sorely needed” additional funding as it prepares to take on a greater role from next month.
Consumer minister Jo Swinson will announce the package during a visit to Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau in Paisley, Scotland today ahead of the service becoming a “one-stop shop” for information and advice about general consumer issues.
She said: “We are committed to supporting the Citizens Advice Service whose work is crucial to providing consumers with fair and impartial advice. I will be seeing this work in action in Paisley today. Offices here and around the country have worked hard to help consumers despite tough times, and that is why I am thrilled we are providing more funding.
“Citizens Advice has built up trust in communities to become a respected household name. Consumers know that when they have a question or a problem they can approach their local Citizens Advice with ease.
“That is why the Citizens Advice Service is setting the standard as the consumer body and will take on new functions from April 1. I am confident that these changes will boost consumer confidence and protection enormously.”
From next month Citizens Advice will take over work on consumer advocacy and education from Consumer Focus and the Office of Fair Trading.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “More than 14 million people currently use our website, we see over two million people in our bureaux and speak to a further two million by phone.
“This additional capital funding will enable us to help even more people by improving our digital infrastructure and continuing to enhance the information that we are able to provide to all our clients. It will also help us gather more evidence to identify and act on the most pressing problems facing the nation.”
Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Margaret Lynch said: “The CAB service in Scotland is in the front-line of helping people deal with the problems they face as a result of the recession and the changes to the benefits system. Here in Paisley, as across Scotland, CAB staff and volunteers are stretched more than they have ever been, and the level of demand is set to continue to rise.
“The funding that is being announced today will help and every penny of it is sorely needed and will be put to good use. But it must not be a one-off. Our service needs sustained investment which recognises the crucial role we play in our communities. People need to know that the CAB service will continue to offer them the best possible support, just as we always have.”