A service to help low income families and older people access personalised financial advice has been launched.
The new Financial Health Check service will be backed by £3.3 million in Scottish Government funding over the next two years.
It is estimated to provide over 15,000 households each year with advice on matters including reducing household energy costs and accessing grants.
It aims to help people avoid the “poverty premium” of paying more for essential goods and services and will be available through a freephone teleophone number or can be accessed in person at Citizens Advice bureauxs across the country.
We want to make sure that families on low incomes have the support they need to make the most of their financial situationAileen Campbell, Communities Secretary
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “I am delighted that from today our new Financial Health Check service is now open for business.
“This is a key part of our work to tackle child poverty and we want to make sure that families on low incomes have the support they need to make the most of their financial situation to avoid paying the higher costs for basic goods and services that low income families can often face.
“The health check will cover issues such as access to free school meals, benefit uptake, council tax reduction and cheaper deals on energy and other utilities to reduce household costs.
“I am delighted that those families and older people will be able to get the personalised advice they need to save money and to receive all the support that is available.”
Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Derek Mitchell added: “Research has shown that around half a million Scots are not claiming all the support they are entitled to.
“That means families are struggling to heat their homes or put food on the table while missing out on financial assistance that could make a crucial difference. This service is all about identifying those people and linking them up with the grants, benefits or support that they need.”
John Dickie, the director of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said: “We know from our work that too many hard up families miss out the financial support they are entitled to, undermining wider action to end child poverty.
“The new Financial Health Check is an important and very welcome step toward ensuring all parents get the advice they need to maximise their incomes and reduce the costs they face.”