Demand for advice about welfare benefits has increased by two-fifths in the last five years, the Citizens Advice Bureau has reported.
The service recorded a 39 per cent rise in the number of new benefit issues it deals with since 2008, with a total of 190,000 in 2011-12. In its latest report, Citizens Advice Scotland said that employment and support allowance (ESA), which replaced incapacity benefit in 2008, has played a large part in this increase.
The number of sickness benefit cases brought to Scottish CABs increased by 55 per cent between 2008 and last year.
Last year staff represented people at over 4,500 benefit tribunals.
Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Margaret Lynch said:
“Current welfare changes and cuts are driving an increased demand for advice across the country, from people who are being pushed into financial crisis as they see their already-constrained income slashed.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Our welfare reforms will bring much-needed fairness back to a benefits system that spiralled out of control and trapped the very people it was supposed to help into a lifetime of benefit dependency.”