Letter to the Committee from the Scottish Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (CRE 6)
I write with respect to the Scottish Affairs Committee examination of the work of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) in Scotland on Wednesday 20 March. As Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has worked closely with the CRE in Scotland over a number of years, I thought you might be interested to hear something about the nature of our engagement with them.
You may already know that CAS is the umbrella body for the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) service in Scotland and is responsible for setting national policies for the CAB service and for providing the support to enable bureaux to meet the twin aims, of providing advice and assistance to people in Scotland and exerting a responsible influence on the development of social policy both locally and nationally.
Last year the service dealt with 404,381 new problems brought to the CAB by clients throughout Scotland.
Tackling inequality has already been central to the work of the service. In February last year, CAS recognised that a revitalisation of its commitment to equality was required and that, to do this effectively, partnership working with national organisations such as the CRE was needed.
Drawing on the support of the CRE, in particular Dharmendra Kanani, CAS adapted the CRE standards as a baseline model to cover all equalities issues, for inclusion in the revised membership scheme. Thus, to retain status as a member of the Association of Citizens Advice Bureau, every CAB at its tri-annual audit will now have to demonstrate compliance with these standards. In this way CAS ensures that the CAB service delivers advice and information services that are of the best possible quality and able to meet the needs of a diverse society. The CRE's contribution to our annual conference, titled "Quality and Equality", in August this year will also help drive forward the equality agenda within the CAB service.
The extension of collaborative working between the CRE and CAS has been made possible by expansion of the Commission's office in Scotland. Current discussions regarding collaboration on advice provision, particularly on discrimination cases, will enhance this partnership even further.
Another tangible benefit of having a CRE office in Scotland is being able to draw on their knowledge, particularly on the interaction of reserved and devolved matters relating to equality issues and on the particularity of the "black" experience in Scotland. Access to this expertise has informed our contribution to policy forums such as the DFEE Race Education and Employment Forum, and the Scottish Executive Inclusion Network.
Through our engagement with the CRE in Scotland we have come to value their work highly.
We hope the Committee finds this information of assistance.
Chief Executive Officer
6 March 2002