Citizens Advice reveals a rise in fuel bill concerns

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New figures outline the consumer issues dealt with by CAB

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6th October 2014 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has recorded a 79% increase in people coming to them with concerns about household fuel bills.

Figures published in a new report showing the total number of consumer issues dealt with by the service in the last financial year.  

In that period Scotland’s 61 local citizens advice bureaux  – together with the service’s new consumer helpline – saw a total of 282,220 such problems dealt with.

This is just part of the total number of 890,000 issues seen by the Scottish CAB service as a whole, but shows how much of the work of the service is now devoted to consumer advice.

It’s the first time we have been able to compile a national snapshot of what sort of consumer problems Scots are having to cope with, day by day

The report identifies the top five consumer issues as unsecured credit, credit card debts, bank account problems, energy issues and private rented housing concerns.

Scottish CAB’s report also shows the issues that have increased compared to the previous year, with domestic fuel bills topping the table.

The findings revealed regional trends within Scotland – for example, Moray was the area which saw the highest number of consumer issues overall. Shetland had the most calls on computing services, West Lothian saw the highest number of complaints about used cars and in North Lanarkshire people complained about furniture.

CAS head of policy Susan McPhee said: "The CAB service has always helped people with consumer problems. Within our general workload of issues like benefits, housing, employment etc, there have always been people who need advice on a utility bill or a scam or faulty goods.

“But the sheer number of consumer problems we see has increased significantly over the last two years as the whole structure of consumer bodies in the country has been made more streamlined, with the CAB becoming one of the main agencies people can come to with their consumer problems.

“This report reflects that. It’s an important document, as it’s the first time we have been able to compile a national snapshot of what sort of consumer problems Scots are having to cope with, day by day.

Every case is of course treated confidentially, but by collating them together we can identify particular trends and areas of concern, and these can be used by government and consumer regulators to frame public policy on these issues.

"This increased profile has of course brought more and more people to come to the CAB with their consumer problems – and we welcome that. People know we are now one of the leading agencies where they can get help on any kind of consumer issue. Either at a local CAB or from our specialist consumer helpline: 03454 040506. As with all CAB services, our consumer advice is free, independent and completely confidential."