Perth Resources

Introduction and background to bureau

Community profile

Perth and Kinross is a large, predominately rural area, covering 5,286 square kilometres, with a total population of approximately 144,180. The population is increasing and is predicted to rise by 17% by 2020. One third of the population live in the city of Perth with a further 23% living in the 6 next largest towns while the remaining 45% of the population live in smaller settlements and rural areas.

The population of Perth and Kinross is mainly white (over 99%). Ethnic Minority groups include Scottish Gypsy Travellers and a well-established Chinese community.

In 2007 Perth and Kinross had the third highest number of migrant workers of all the 32 Local Authorities in Scotland, behind Glasgow and Edinburgh. The majority of migrant workers have come from the new EU members such as Poland and the Czech Republic.

Many areas in Perth and Kinross are relatively prosperous but 10 of the 175 data zones are within the 20% most deprived in Scotland. The area has better than average rates of economic activity – 67.76 % of the population aged 16-74 are economically active (Scotland: 65%). Source Census statistics 2001 and there is relatively low unemployment.

Client profile

Community Bureau
Gender Male 48% 37%
Female 52% 63%
Ethnicity White 99% 99%
Employment Full-time 43% 37%
Part-time (<16 hours) 14% 7%
Unemployed 3% 18%
Economically inactive 32% 38%
Housing Owner occupier 66% 30%
RSL tenant 19% 32%
Private tenant 11% 27%
Age <24 28% 4%
25 – 59 53% 77%
60+ 19% 19%

CAB Services provided:

Generalist advice services provided through drop-in surgeries, appointments, home visits, telephone, letter or e-mail:  Monday – Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The generalist service is provided at a town centre office in Perth and across rural Perthshire and Kinross through outreach surgeries to address the needs of isolated communities.

Specialist Services are provided mainly by appointment:

Money Advice

Disability Benefits



Income Maximisation


Independent Information and Advice Service (IASS) [NHS complaints]

Bureau’s Approach for Provision of Race Discrimination Advice

Perth CAB chose a partnership approach to working as it was felt that this would be the most effective way to reach people who were experiencing race discrimination. The bureau had already worked extensively with local Scottish Gypsy Travellers and this client group continued to access CAB services.

In order to reach other client groups the bureau developed existing and new links with other voluntary and statutory organisations both to promote the project and to learn more about the problems faced by different communities in Perth and Kinross.

What Difference Did It Make?

The project raised awareness of race discrimination both within and outwith the bureau. This enabled us to identify discrimination issues more easily and gave us the opportunity to challenge the perception that “there is no discrimination in Perth and Kinross”.

The numbers of BAME clients increased from 1.3% of clients to 4.8%.

The bureau recruited and trained 3 new advisers, 2 from Asian communities and 1 Polish national.

Participation in the project also enabled us to access further funding for discrimination advice.

Partnership Working

Partnership work was both a strength and a weakness. The bureau participated in a number of forums which were set up to address equality and diversity issues but it appeared that in some cases these were opportunities for discussion rather than action and a number of proposed activities did not actually take place. We were left with the feeling that some forums were established for box-ticking purposes or as token gesture.

Conversely the bureau established excellent links with the Race Equality Council and this partnership working is continuing. Currently the REC and CAB are jointly funded by EHRC to provide Discrimination advice. The 2 organisations also jointly advised a number of migrant workers who were experiencing employment difficulties, two of whom went on to win substantial awards at an Employment Tribunal which included an award for race discrimination.

Lesson Learned: Choose your partners carefully and wisely. Some initiatives can be very time-consuming for little practical purpose.

The Role of Leadership

The project changed and developed over its 3-year lifetime and we concluded that the most effective way of working was to have a designated “champion” to lead on the project activities. We felt that this was particularly important for a generalist agency such as a CAB where staff and volunteers are dealing with a wide range of complex issues and without constant, enthusiastic reminders advisers may (understandably) forget about some aspects of the bureau’s work.


Increased awareness of discrimination and the resources which were developed will enable us to continue identifying and responding to discrimination issues more effectively within the bureau, at generalist level.

In most cases, clients who have experienced discrimination also have other issues such as money owed by employers or poor housing conditions. The CAB’s holistic approach to advice-giving works well for these clients, enabling us to deal with discrimination within the context of the wider issues (employment, housing etc). The discrimination issue may be a complicating factor but we have found that we can provide generalist advice without a significant impact on our resources / workload.

However, many discrimination cases require specialist help which can be time-consuming:- researching relevant legislation, issuing discrimination questionnaires, writing letters of complaint, taking court or tribunal action. We have very limited resources for the provision of specialist help (currently small amount of funding from EHRC – due to end 30/09/10) and there is no other specialist provider in Perth.

We have also identified the cost of interpretation as a major issue. The numbers of clients requiring interpreters is increasing and the cost to the bureau is prohibitive.

In practice this means that our ability to identify discrimination cases may lead to frustration for advisers and clients in the future if we are unable to secure funding to provide the specialist advice and support that these clients need.

In addition the needs of some communities are overwhelming. We are aware of the huge difficulties still faced by Scottish Gypsy Travellers but these issues are beyond the current resources of the CAB to resolve. There is evidence that Scottish Gypsy Travellers are routinely discriminated against both by statutory providers and by other sectors of the community. The bureau continues to work with individuals to resolve specific issues but the wider issues require more time and resources than we have available.

Lesson Learned:

We need to be clear about our own limitations and our objectives and to make sure that clients understand at an early stage what they can expect from our service.

The other aspect of work which has been done through this project, working proactively with ethnic minority communities, is a long-term process and we hope to continue developing the links that we have made. We would like to recruit more staff and volunteers from Black and Ethnic Minority Communities and to develop more outreach work with these communities.

Access to CAB Services in Rural Areas

There are 2 distinct issues:

i) Provision of CAB services in rural areas

ii) Access to those services by BAME communities

i)            Perth CAB holds regular outreach surgeries at 5 venues in rural areas. This service is partly-funded by time-limited project funding and we anticipate that it will be difficult to maintain the current service provision if we are unable to secure funding in the future. The service is relatively expensive to run because of travel costs.

A second (general) problem for outreach services is the length of time available per client. Most of our surgeries operate for 2 hours and the adviser may see 6 to 8 clients in that time. This restricts the amount of help that can be provided to any one client and because the funding for this service is target-driven the service cannot provide specialist on-going casework. Sending specialist advisers to the outreaches in addition to or instead of the generalist outreach adviser adds considerably to the cost, and because of the travel time impacts on the specialist advisers’ workloads.

ii)            One of the difficulties with outreach is the limited availability of suitable venues, and those limitations may impact more severely on BAME groups than on other communities. For example, many of the migrant workers in Perth and Kinross are working in agriculture, food preparation industry or hotels, and they may be unable to access advice services during office hours. However, it is difficult for the bureau to provide out-of-hours services at remote rural venues (we do have out-of-hours services in the main bureau).

We use community hospitals for 3 of our outreach services and we feel that this is useful because most people know where the hospitals are and they are fairly neutral venues which are easily accessible. One of our outreaches is in a Church Hall and we are aware that this could be a barrier for some people.

Another issue is how best to promote the services to BAME communities in rural areas and we have found that word-of-mouth is the most effective – if we have helped one individual others from that community hear about the service and attend the surgeries.

Confidentiality can be an issue in rural areas, where small communities all know each other and are very aware of what their neighbor’s are doing. Again we feel that a neutral venue such as a hospital is useful for overcoming this potential difficulty.

2 of our rural outreaches are well used by BAME communities (4% of clients at one outreach and 7% of clients at the other). These 2 outreaches are in areas where we know there are significant numbers of migrant workers.

Overall we feel that the CAB services in Perth are known to, and accessible to, some BAME communities but there are 2 communities who are probably under-represented (Chinese community and black Muslims) and our goal is to continue working with these 2 communities to establish what advice needs they have and how CAB might be able to meet those needs. A specific objective is to recruit and train advisers from within these communities.


The local Race Equality Council provided some training on Discrimination Awareness and on Discrimination Questionnaires.

Local Scottish Gypsy Travellers provided cultural awareness training.