The Advice Shop of the City of Edinburgh Council has obtained accreditation to the Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers.
The Advice Shop is a free and confidential service which provides advice on all aspects of welfare rights and debt to support the council’s objective to end poverty in the city. The service helps prevent and alleviate poverty by maximising income, addressing personal debt, and connecting Edinburgh residents to support services.
The accreditation, which lasts four years, is a formal recognition that the service provides advice to a high standard as set out by the Scottish Government.
It comes as a report was presented to the council’s Policy and Sustainability Committee on Tuesday (9 January) which provided an update on the performance of the Advice Shop. The report also noted the steps being taken to improve accessibility to the service.
Following the Council’s move to formally declare a housing emergency at the beginning of November, the report detailed new initiatives introduced by the Advice Shop to reduce homelessness.
A Multi-Disciplinary Team was created to work with Council tenants to support those with significant rent arrears who faced eviction. Also highlighted was a team of Income Maximisation officers who work with people who have presented to the Council as homeless. The team make sure benefit entitlement is maximised so those presenting as homeless can prepare to access a permanent tenancy.
As a result of their success, evictions have been avoided and savings for the Council have been made in terms of rental income and reduced time being spent in temporary accommodation.
The provisions now form part of the permanent offer within the Advice Shop.
Councillor Cammy Day, Council Leader
“I’m absolutely delighted to see the fantastic work of our colleagues being recognised. The Advice Shop provide a vital service for Edinburgh’s residents, and it is heartening to see the positive impact of this.
“It’s estimated there’s as much as £80 million in unclaimed benefits in the city. Making sure people can access all the financial support they are entitled to is one vital step we can take towards ending poverty in Edinburgh. Our officers are doing a brilliant job at making sure money is going back into the pockets of our most vulnerable residents, where it is needed now more than ever.”
“Tackling poverty is one of our key priorities as a Council and one of the ways we can do this is by addressing the ongoing housing emergency. Despite our incredibly positive work in preventing homelessness, the cost-of-living crisis means that demand for affordable housing is far outstripping supply.
“Ultimately, we need the Scottish Government to help us in taking action to eradicate poverty, and to support our efforts to create the additional affordable housing we desperately need.”
Residents can access the service by phone, email and in person. More information about the Advice Shop is available here.