Here are some examples of cases dealt with by Citizens Advice Scotland in the past two years:

A former construction worker from the east of Scotland, who became ill after his work dried up, went to Citizens Advice looking for help with the completion of a crisis grant application. He had only 80p left in his bank account and had not eaten for two days. He had no electricity or hot water and the only food he had in his house was dried spaghetti which he could not cook as he has no power. He had walked four miles to seek help from Citizens Advice as he had no money to afford a bus fare.

A man from central Scotland who was in arrears with his gas and electricity and had no means of getting the supply reconnected. He also had no means of cooking food and had been without gas and electricity for three months. He had used his initial employment support allowance (ESA) benefit to buy groceries and when he sought help from Citizens Advice he was not due another payment for eight days.

A father from the north of Scotland who had a two-week old baby. He was told he would have to wait another two weeks for his Universal Credit payment, which left him without any money for gas and electricity to heat his home and heat water. His mother was looking after the baby while he tried to sort out the utilities problem.

A woman in central Scotland had no fuel for two months over winter. She had been staying with friends, which put her at risk of losing her tenancy as it could be deemed she had abandoned her property. She had built up debt on her pre-payment meters and any money was going towards paying this debt.

A client from the east of Scotland who had been sanctioned and was living on £43 a week hardship payment. He paid for his energy with prepayment meters, but standing charges which had built up on his gas and electricity meters meant that any money he put in was being used to pay off that debt before he got any heat or power. He also had a hole in the wall of his home which was resulting in “significant” loss of heat.

A client from the east of Scotland who had a partner and a nine-month old baby and whose ESA payment had been stopped. They contacted the DWP, which stated the client’s sick note had not been received, even though it had been sent in the previous week. The client was told they could not contact the DWP regarding the issue for another week - which left them without any money for food or gas and electricity. They required a food parcel and were also referred for a crisis loan.

A couple in the east of Scotland who were in receipt of social security and struggling to make ends meet. They had received an electricity bill demanding a payment of just over £80 in full. They phoned to offer payment the following week, but the supplier was unsympathetic. When they sought help from Citizens Advice, they had been skipping meals and were being harassed and threatened by debt collectors, with the stress affecting their mental health.