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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 June, 2005, 00:15 GMT 01:15 UK
Call centre answers CAB worries
Citizens Advice Bureau office
Glasgow will host Scotland's first advice call centre
Glasgow is to host what is believed to be Scotland's first advice call centre in a move designed to relieve pressure on the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Callers unable to reach the CAB by phone will now hear a message inviting them to contact the call centre.

Queries can be answered by one of 60 specially trained advisers and face-to-face requests can be referred.

Citizens Advice Direct's Michael McTernan said he hoped people would find the service quick and efficient.

CAB offers free independent advice to the public on a wide range of concerns from personal debt to welfare benefits and nuisance neighbours.

However, Mr McTernan said despite offering a good service, some people were missing out on vital advice.

It's about encouraging people to access advice sooner and not just leave it and let their problem get worse
Michael McTernan
Citizens Advice Direct

"According to research by BT, 85% of the demand for advice by phone in Glasgow is unmet", he said.

"We know CAB advice is sometimes urgently needed. It's a different access-point.

"It's about encouraging people to access advice sooner and not just leave it and let their problem get worse.

"Advice doesn't necessarily have to be about speaking to people face-to-face. The fundamental thing here is about what you deliver by phone."

'New dimension'

CAD, based in Glasgow city centre, has a three-year funding programme from the Community Fund with support from Citizens Advice Scotland, Glasgow City Council and the European Social Fund.

Mr McTernan said its research estimated that CAD would receive 30,000 calls a year without advertising and perhaps 50,000 when its services were publicised.

"A feasibility study we commissioned initially predicted that 80% of the calls we get we should be able to handle - the actual figure is 90%."

Citizens Advice Scotland's Kaliani Lyle said the call centre will "open up a new dimension" to the service.

"A call centre-style facility, run in tandem with our mainstream service, will relieve the pressure, help clients more quickly, and allow our advisers in the high-street bureaux more time for face-to-face work."

CAD can be contacted on 0870 290 3000.

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