A free financial advice service has helped low income households save more than £6 million in the last nine months.
Low-income families who seek free financial advice from the Money Talk Team are on average now £1,850 better off.
The service offers one-stop, personalised advice on dealing with debt and ways to reduce household bills.
With around 450,000 cases of unclaimed benefits in Scotland, it also helps low income families identify what financial support might be available.
The service is supported by Scottish Government funding of £3.3 million over two years.
In the last nine months, the Money Talk Team has helped a total of 3198 people be better off by more than £6 million – meaning households benefit by more than £1,850 on average.
A total of nearly 8000 people have accessed the service.
Launching a national advertising campaign to raise awareness of the Money Talk Team, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said:“The Money Talk Team is making a huge difference to the thousands of families that have already taken advantage of this free service.
“The friendly, experienced advisers talk callers through the options available, letting them know exactly what they are entitled to and helping them save money.
“But there are still too many families out there not getting what they should be.
“If you’re a parent struggling to pay the bills at the end of the month, you’re not alone. It doesn’t matter if you’re in or out of work, one call to the free phoneline is all it takes to get some advice that could be a massive help to your household.”
Money Talk Team is the new name for Financial Health Check, which started in 2018 and is delivered by Citizens Advice Scotland.
Citizens Advice Scotland Chief Executive Derek Mitchell said: “With a footprint in every community across Scotland and 80 years of experience of delivering confidential and impartial advice, the Citizens Advice network in Scotland is uniquely placed to deliver the Money Talk Team service.
“People should be claiming what they are due. That’s how the system works; we all pay in and get support when we need it.
“With it being the start of a new school year, this is the perfect time for families to see if they are entitled to extra cash that could be paying for back to school essentials, or if they could be paying less for utilities or on council tax.”
The national marketing campaign, supported by advertising, PR and social media will run until mid-September, to introduce the Money Talk Team and encourage people to call the helpline.
It will also take to the streets with a national information roadshow from September 4, visiting towns and cities across the country.
James Davidson, who lives with his 16-year-old son, called the team for advice on budgeting due to being out of work.
He said: “I was nervous at first as it felt weird talking about my money situation, but the adviser put me at ease. We went over my current benefits and discussed various options.
“I had been thinking about claiming Universal Credits but we worked out that I’d be five pounds worse off each week if I did. So it was reassuring to hear that I was doing the right thing.
“We also ran through my loan repayments which were taking a third of my benefits each week.
“Just by making a couple of calls I’ve managed to get an extra £35 a week in my pocket which is more than enough to cover my monthly TV, broadband and mobile costs.
“The team are friendly, helpful and the adviser properly listened.
“I’ve now told both my sisters to call as I think it could really help them too.”
Advice is available from the Money Talk Team on 0800 085 7145 and at local Citizens Advice Bureau.