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Soaring fuel bills spark 85% spike in demand for Dundee advice service

Dundee Citizens Advice
Dundee Citizens Advice Bureau support worker Grant Eals talking to a client last year.

Soaring fuel bills have driven an 85% spike in demand for energy advice in Dundee in recent months.

The city council has unveiled a new strategy for advice services after data revealed an increasing need.

Council advice services are reporting a 12% increase in inquiries for advice in the last three months compared with the first three months of the previous year.

Council leader John Alexander.

But Dundee Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) saw an 85% increase in requests for utilities support in April and May 2022 – higher than the Scotland-wide CAB average of 62%.

Councillor John Alexander, leader of the city council, said: “The astonishing work that goes on to help people in Dundee and to direct them to lifeline funding and support is more vital than ever given the current cost of living crisis following the pandemic.”

How is the council meeting need for advice services?

The new report, which sets out the advice strategy for the next two years, details how the council’s services will partner with the Brooksbank Centre and Services, Dundee CAB and Scarf.

It includes an aim to ensure people get the right advice first time, reducing the need for onward referrals to different agencies and risking people getting “lost in the system”.

Any new services created by the council or its partner agencies will also consider any gaps in the current system.

The council also says it wants to increase awareness and reduce any stigma associated with advice services, which it hopes will decrease the number of “crisis” situations.

There has been a spike in demand for advice about fuel bills.

Councillor Willie Sawers, deputy policy and resources convener, says the scale of the challenge “could not be underestimated”.

He said: “This new strategy builds on the strong partnership which has existed for a few years now between the council, Brooksbank, Dundee CAB and Scarf.

“I hope that they can attract more agencies in to give more help as people are experiencing real difficulties in getting by.”

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