The East Lothian Advice Consortium (ELAC) Annual Report 2022-23 shows an increase of people seeking financial advice

The increasing number of people seeking advice for a range of financial issues and problems is one key finding in the East Lothian Advice Consortium (ELAC) Annual Report 2022-23.

ELAC, which is a partnership between Haddington Citizen Advice Bureau and Musselburgh Citizen Advice Bureau, outlines a number of highlights in its annual report (figures in brackets are for the previous year, 2021-2022) including:

  • 2,724 (1,880) clients accessed the whole service
  • 1,660 (982) clients were new to the service
  • £2,772,993 (£2,362,465) total financial gains were achieved for 830 (489) clients
  • 1,348 (1,148) clients were helped with benefits/income maximisation advice
  •  320 (221) people had their income increased by a total of £1,800,620 (£1,466,354)

In addition, 475 (449) clients were helped with money advice and a total of just under £2m in total debt was handled for new cases in 2022/23.

The Annual Report includes powerful cases studies highlighting the support given to vulnerable people seeking benefits and income maximisation advice and debt advice. The past year has seen the return to near normal services with face-to-face contacts following the pandemic. There has also been successful recruitment and training of more generalist advisers to meet the increasing demand for advice and securing funds from external funders to deliver specialist services to those in most need particularly in relation to food and fuel poverty.

Council Leader Norman Hampshire said: “ELAC’s 2022/23 annual report sadly brings home the reality of financial challenges many individuals and families are facing during this cost of living crisis.

“The work of ELAC in providing invaluable support and advice to local residents in need cannot be underestimated and I would like to echo the thanks provided by many who have been helped.

“The consortium, staff and volunteers at Musselburgh and Haddington Citizens Advice Bureaux have a wealth of experience and knowledge enabling them to help others experiencing a range of financial difficulties and concerns. I would encourage anyone currently worried about their financial situation to seek such advice and support.”

Louise Marongiu and Gayle Bell - Chief Officers at Musselburgh and Haddington CAB - jointly commented:

“The East Lothian Advice Consortium Annual Report for 2022/23 provides an effective summary of our performance over the past year.  The current cost of living crisis has had a significant impact on both individuals and families with identified concerns particularly around fuel costs and rising household bills.

“Our teams of staff and volunteers have been able to resume face-to-face contact with many clients which has been greatly welcomed and which we believe helps strengthen the client support. Whilst it is undeniable that more people are seeking the independent advice and support we can offer we would encourage others who may be struggling and unaware of what is available at CAB to please get in touch.

 “We would also like to encourage new volunteers to come forward in order to support face-to-face advice and deliver phone and online services – this is rewarding work which gives people the opportunity to make a real and significant difference.

The ELAC annual report 2022/23 is available to read in East Lothian Council’s Members’ Library.

Published: Friday, 14th July 2023