A “PERFECT STORM” of financial changes is set to leave thousands of Wee County people worse off, an advice service has warned.

The end of the furlough scheme, rising energy bills and the removal of the £20 uplift on Universal Credit is all happening within a few weeks, explained managers at Clackmannanshire Citizens Advice Bureau (Clacks CAB).

Each of the changes alone could be a challenge for those on low income and there are concerns that all three happening around the same time will push more people into financial struggle.

Jonny Miller, managing director at Clacks CAB, said: “The end of furlough, an increase in energy bills and the end of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit are all about to happen over the next few weeks.

“Any one of these would be a challenge to low-income families, but all of them happening together is going to be a perfect storm that will hit really hard.”

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which most recently saw the government pay 60 per cent of wages for people on furlough due to Covid, is set to end on September 30.

Universal Credit (UC) was boosted by £20 a week during the pandemic, but the scheme is to end on October 6 with pressure on government for a further extension.

More than 5,000 people in the Wee County claim UC, which was introduced to roll several benefits into one.

Ofgem announced last month that the energy price cap is to increase from October 1, driven by a rise of more than 50 per cent in energy costs over the past six months and with gas prices hitting a record high.

The increase is set to affect households on variable or default rates and those with prepayment meters.

Against this backdrop, Clacks CAB has launched a campaign to remind Wee County residents that free, confidential and impartial advice is always available to anyone who needs it.

Jonny added: “People facing tough financial choices in the coming weeks should know that our advice adds up.

“Our team of advisers are here to help anyone who is in financial difficulty.

“Remember our advice is always free, confidential and impartial.

“We can help you with any financial problem, there may be grants or benefits you are entitled to but not aware of, you could be entitled to cheaper bills for utilities and we could help with debt advice.

“Last year we unlocked a total of £1.6 million in financial gain for people who came to see us.”

People can contact Clacks CAB on 01259 219404 Monday to Friday between 10am and 3pm.

Alternatively, visit clackscab.org.uk/contact-us.