Service to be extended to more rural and island communities.
Investment of up to £300,000 will help support money and welfare advice services in some of Scotland’s most remote locations.
From the autumn, GP practices in 20 rural and 10 island communities will be able to refer patients directly to an in-house welfare rights officer for advice on increasing income, social security eligibility, debt resolution, housing and employability issues.
They will build on the work already being undertaken at nearly 150 GP practices in the most deprived areas of the country as part of the Welfare Advice and Health Partnerships programme.
Speaking on a visit to the Forge Medical Practice in Glasgow, which has offered the service since 2021, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“The cost of living crisis is on everyone’s mind right now and we know the impact that can have on people’s mental and physical health, particularly those who are struggling the most to make ends meet.
“Dedicated money and welfare advice in the same location where people are already receiving mental and physical health support is about providing people with more convenient access to the help they need, whilst also reaching those who do not engage with traditional advice services.
“This funding will ensure people in rural and island communities have access to the same advice and support, given the particular challenges they also face from the rising cost of living, including fuel and food inflation.
“The Scottish Government is committed to mitigating the impact of increased costs, and this action is in addition to the almost £3 billion already allocated this year by Ministers to help households cope with the pressures so many are facing.”
The Scottish Government is funding the Welfare Advice Service Facilitator (WASF), hosted by the Improvement Service, to support the development of money and welfare advice and health partnerships within healthcare settings.
Advice is provided by a money and welfare advice worker within the practice. They typically have one or more session within the practice each week.
New participating surgeries will be identified from areas where cost of living is already disproportionately high and people are likely to be more heavily impacted by the current cost of living crisis.
An evaluation of the original scheme, which covered nine GP surgeries in Glasgow, showed the average financial gain to individuals accessing WAHPs was over £19 for every £1 invested in the scheme, and over £25 for every £1 invested when debt negotiation and management was included over a period of 12 months.
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