Sandra Osborne MP: Why I’m pushing for a South Ayrshire Citizens Advice Bureau

I have arranged to meet with the Chief Executive, Leader and Deputy Leader of South Ayrshire Council to push for a Citizens Advice Bureau to be set up in South Ayrshire.

South Ayrshire is one of only two local authority areas in Scotland that does not have a Citizens Advice Bureau.

While I recognise the good work being done by North Ayr Resource Centre (NARC), I believe that the residents of South Ayrshire are being let down by the lack of a CAB.

I have called various meetings over the past few months with Council officials, NARC and Citizens Advice Scotland with a view to making progress.

The Citizens Advice Service in Scotland, which came into being at the outbreak of the Second World War, is celebrating 75 years of service this week as the charity releases figures showing overall it dealt with more than one million issues for the second year in a row.

Since it was created three-quarters of a century ago, enquiries have changed significantly.

Bureaux have gone from helping people with evacuation and ration book queries to tackling problems with benefit issues, payday loans and rogue employers.

Nonetheless the citizens advice service remains as valuable and important to communities as ever.

That’s why I would like to see a South Ayrshire CAB established as soon as possible.

I also attended a debate last week initiated by my Labour colleague, Tom Clarke, on Personal Independence Payments. Tom sought this debate not least to congratulate Citizens Advice Scotland on its 75th anniversary.

But it was also because Citizens Advice Scotland had released a report recently that shows the rollout of PIP to replace the Disability Living Allowance benefit is in a shambolic state.

Its comprehensive report states that it has found selective use of evidence in order to make a decision not to award the benefit. Clients feel that not all of their circumstances have been considered, or that they have been over-simplified.

Four in five advisors say that delays in determining cases are causing worsening health, and in nine out of 10 cases are causing additional stress and anxiety, not to mention financial strain, while claims are being assessed.

After the long referendum campaign it has been a very busy month carrying out my duties as your MP.

At Westminster, I have spoken on a wide range of topics including - domestic violence; more devolution for Scotland; the threat of ISIL in Iraq and Syria; Justice for Miners and the regeneration of the coalfields communities; and recognising the State of Palestine.

In the constituency, I have been holding surgeries, including my regular surgeries in Maybole and Girvan.

I have also recently returned from a short visit to Iraq with the Foreign Affairs Committee where we visited Baghdad and Erbil in Kurdistan.

We met with leading politicians in both the new Iraqi Government and the regional Kurdistan Government to discuss their progress in establishing inclusive government and defeating the threat of ISIL extremists.