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Funding for advice projects extended into 2017

Friday, Oct 07, 2016

More than 100 projects across Scotland helping people with debt, benefit and housing advice will continue to be funded by the Scottish Government and the Money Advice Service (MAS) into 2017.

Between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016 these projects provided help to 28,000 people with 45,000 different issues.  They have secured client financial gain of £31 million [1].

The 102 projects, which are spread throughout Scotland, are part of several jointly-funded advice programmes managed by the Scottish Legal Aid Boad (SLAB).

Colin Lancaster, Chief Executive of SLAB, said: “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.”

The Scottish Government’s 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.”

The extended grant funded projects include:

The Economic Downturn Programme

  • Stream 1 projects provide direct assistance and representation for people facing court action related to mortgage repossession or tenancy repossession and direct assistance that tackles the multiple and serious debt issues underlying these court actions.
  • Stream 2 projects provide Information, one-off advice and signposting to people with small claims and other civil court matters  to increase people’s ability to navigate the court process themselves or to seek further assistance and casework assistance to people with small claims-level cases enabling them to resolve matters pre-action or settle them early in the court process.

The Making Advice Work Programme

  • Stream 1 projects geared towards resolving benefit and debt problems, and to help people make the transition to the new benefits system
  • Stream 2 for social tenants dealing with the impact of changes to the benefit system. In particular, those changes which are likely to impact on their ability to manage their housing costs or to sustain their tenancies
  • Stream 3 for projects aimed at tackling barriers in accessing debt advice or to test new ways of resolving and avoiding problems related to debt, financial management and associated social welfare law for vulnerable groups of people such as people with disabilities

The Tackling Money Worries Programme

  • This programme focuses on improving outcomes for low-income families with children facing a change in their circumstances which places them at higher risk of debt and money problems.
  • Projects focus on tackling the unmet debt and financial capability needs of low income families affected by one of the following key life events
    • The birth of a child and the early years, particularly where families have a disabled child
    • Change to the family structure, for example when a relationship breakdown occurs
    • Impact of going through the criminal justice system, including families where someone is in prison or about to leave prison.

Scottish Women’s Rights Centre Legal Project

  • This project provides legal advice and representation to women affected by gender based violence. The project also aims to improve the understanding of the scale and type of demand for legal advice from women affected by gender based violence, highlight problems in access, and identify examples of good practice and methods of delivery.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court Mediation project

  • This project provides a free mediation service to small claims and occasional summary cause litigants in Edinburgh sheriff court, taking referrals from sheriffs and self-referrals from litigants.  Parties wishing to resolve their dispute by mediation can be offered ‘same-day’ mediation or return to the court at a later date for a mediation appointment.  

For more information, please contact:
The Policy and Development team
T: 0131 240 1892

The Government's announcement of this extension to funding can be viewed here.

[1] Client Financial Gain (CFG) for benefits is calculated as the weekly benefit awarded to the client x52 to give an annual figure. If the client has won a backdate to their benefits, the lump sum award is included in the financial gain total. We have not verified CFG.


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