Stirling Council and key local partners are shining a light on the supports available to struggling households amid the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Almost £2million of investment was approved in the 2022/23 budget last week to support families already feeling the squeeze, as communities prepare for a surge in monthly costs for fuel, energy and national insurance contributions this April.

Forecast pressures include:

  • A 54% jump in the energy price cap from 1 April affecting around 22 million people in the UK
  • A 1.25% increase in National Insurance (NI) contributions from 6 April which will mean those earning the average UK salary of £26,000 will have to pay £130 more in NI each year.
  • Inflation forecast to reach 7% in April
  • Petrol and diesel prices at an all-time high.
  • A rise in Scotland for both peak and off-peak regulated rail fares of 3.8%.

The Council is now urging those in need of financial assistance to reach out and speak to its Advice Services and Welfare Reform Team*.

Trained staff provide free, independent money, debt and welfare benefits advice and have a proven track record in improving people’s finances, securing more than £23.3m in additional income for 9,332 clients across Stirling over the past five years – an average of £2,506 per person

Among the services provided are identifying priority and non-priority debts, contacting and negotiating with creditors, maximising income by checking benefit entitlement, helping with benefit applications, challenging benefit decisions, personal budgeting, referrals to food banks and exploration of any available charitable grants.

Here to support you

Convener of Stirling Council’s Community Planning and Regeneration Committee, Cllr Chris Kane said: “While the Council and other community partners will do all they can to mitigate the spiralling costs of living, the unfortunate reality is that more households across Stirling are going to be struggling financially in 2022.

“Our message to the people of Stirling is that we are here to support you in these challenging times. If you are worried about debt or struggling to manage your money, please get in touch and our trained advisors will be able to help you.

“To have secured more than £23.3m in additional income for vulnerable clients over the past five years is a fantastic achievement for the team and they are eager to help more people in this difficult situation.”

Worried or anxious

Vice Convener, Cllr Scott Farmer said:  “Huge spikes in energy bills and a rise in National Insurance contributions will take effect from next month exacerbating an already difficult situation for many households across Stirling.

“Many people will be feeling worried or anxious about their finances and it’s important we continue to raise awareness of the wide variety of supports available to them in these challenging times.”

Other advice and support provided by the Council’s Advice and Welfare Reform Team, who are fully accredited under the Scottish National Standards for Advice and Information Providers, include:

  • The Forth Valley Macmillan Money Matters Service: help maximise income for people with a Cancer diagnosis and their families/carers.
  • Stirling Digital Inclusion Project: supports people to become more confident in using digital tools and the internet by offering one-to-one support.
  • Better off Stirling: a digital platform that allows people to find out the benefits they are entitled to using an online calculator. It also provides information to support users in completing forms and to find and apply for jobs.

The Team work in partnership with a number of local third sector partners, including Stirling Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB), to provide advice and support to residents in a number of areas including welfare benefits and fuel poverty.

Stirling CAB offers a wide range of projects and services to assist those in need, ranging from general advice on the cost of living crisis to support to those made redundant and experiencing financial vulnerability.

Hitting our communities hard

Craig Anderson, CEO of Stirling CAB, said: “The economic impact of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis are hitting our communities hard. Stirling CAB is here to assist those affected and works in partnership with Stirling Council to help as many citizens as possible.”

More information and contact details

To get in touch with the Council’s Advice Services and Welfare Reform Team: email moneyadvice@stirling.gov.uk or call 01786 233528.

More information about all their services can be found here.

To get in touch with Stirling CAB: email bureau@stirlingcab.casonline.org.uk or call 01786 464773 (Monday to Friday 10am – 3pm).

Some of Stirling CAB’s key services are listed below:

Redundancy Response Unit - Stirling CAB delivers immediate debt advice, information and support to address financial vulnerability for citizens due to redundancy & helps unemployed citizens volunteer back into the workplace.

Energy Advice Project - Stirling CAB delivers energy advice in the frontline of the crisis food banks in Stirling and provides fuel poverty advice and support to enable people to take appropriate action to manage their fuel usage

Library Outreach - Stirling CAB provides local access to CAB drop-in holistic advice to mitigate the impact of the cost of living crisis.

Core Volunteer led Generalist Advice Service - Telephone/email/web chat - advice, information and support Monday to Thursday 10am to 3pm.

Stirling CAB Community Law Centre pilot - a comprehensive holistic legal service, particularly valuable in the near term to respond to Covid-19 legal impact areas.

More information about all the Stirling CAB services can be found on the Stirling CAB website: www.stirlingcab.org.uk

Use the hashtag #MoneyAdviceStirling on social media for more content on the available supports.

Picture details:

Picture 1 shows staff from Stirling Council’s Advice Services and Welfare Team and Housing Service; Cllrs Chris Kane and Scott Farmer (4th and 5th from left) and Craig Anderson, CEO of Stirling CAB (2nd from left).