CAB advice “saves tax payer over £60m per year”

A new report by the Fraser of Allander Institute (below) has calculated that Scottish CAB advice saves the economy over £60m per year in costs that would otherwise be borne by the NHS, the benefits system and homelessness services.

In addition, the report finds that Scottish CAB advice puts £63m back in the pockets of Scottish CAB clients, and that this money – when spent in shops and services – supports nearly 1,250 Scottish jobs, and wages of around £27m.    

The report has been published this morning (Wednesday), ahead of a special parliamentary reception tonight at Holyrood, which will be hosted by Bruce Crawford MSP and attended by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP, among others. A number of CAB clients who have taken part in a film about the work of CAB will also be present.

Publishing the report, CAS Chief Executive Margaret Lynch says:

“We have always known that CAB advice has an economic value as well as a social value. It stands to reason that if you prevent someone from becoming homeless or getting ill, that will save the taxpayer the money that would otherwise have been spent to support that person in the long run. But this is the first time the amount of money has been calculated by an independent study, and the figures are quite remarkable. 

“To those of us who work in the CAB service, the main value of our advice is in the personal relief that we bring to the hundreds of thousands of people who come to us in crisis. Last yearScotland’s CAB advisers dealt with half a million issues. And to the advisers who look into their eyes, every one of those clients is much more than a statistic. 

“There is nothing theoretical about the work our advisers do every day. Someone comes through the door, perhaps in tears or deeply distressed because they can’t pay a bill and are drowning in debt, have had benefit cut so need advice on accessing food parcels, or they are being discriminated against or bullied at work. To help that person, and see them leave with a smile on their face and some hope in their eyes, is the main purpose of CAB work as far as we are concerned.

“But of course it’s also the case that by solving such problems we also save the taxpayer huge amounts of money and it’s extremely important that we now have that value quantified. This independent report is the most detailed study ever made of that issue. And the figures are very telling. Particularly when you consider that the report itself says its conclusions are conservative, and probably under-estimate the real impact we have.”

 Margaret Lynch believes the report has an important message in terms of long-term funding of the service. She says:

“I am very proud of the work that our advisers do. Our free, confidential and impartial advice has made us one of the most trusted agencies in the country. And now it’s clear that we have a strong economic value as well as a vital social one. But it’s not enough just to celebrate that value. People need to consider whatScotland’s economy would look like if the CAB was not here, and not performing this vital role.  

 “The number of Scots seeking CAB advice has never been higher, and is rising every year – particularly as people feel the impact of the drastic changes to the welfare system. The service is  having to deliver more and more with fewer and fewer resources. If we are to continue to deliver this high quality service, we need to be given the proper support. 

 “The clear message of this report is thatScotlandneeds a strong CAB service, not just for social reasons but for economic reasons too. We hope that governments and Local Authorities will see that.”