Economic recovery must be underpinned by adequate benefits safety net, says Citizens Advice
Ahead of the Chancellor’s summer economic update, Citizens Advice is calling for urgent changes to the benefits system as its services see a surge in demand for redundancy advice.
Redundancy is now the number one search term on the Citizens Advice website
Between 29 June and 3 July the charity’s frontline advisers helped one person every two minutes with a redundancy issue
Benefits advice page views on the Citizens Advice website are at their highest-ever level, with 4.4 million views since 23 March
Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“The top concern for millions of people right now is weathering the escalating employment crisis. That much is clear from the soaring demand we’re seeing for advice on redundancy and benefits.
“Investment in jobs and training will be critical for economic recovery, but any measures have to be underpinned by a strong safety net.
“At this incredibly worrying time, the government must ensure that the benefits system provides people with enough to make ends meet if they lose their job.”
“I was suddenly out of work with no clear idea of how long my life would be on hold”
Freelancer Meg, 25, ran music classes and worked as an actor before lockdown. Her work began to dry up and for the first time she was left with no other option than to apply for Universal Credit. She had a small amount in savings so opted not to take an advance payment, but money has been tight. Meg says:
“Things changed almost overnight when lockdown happened. I was suddenly out of work with no clear idea of how long my life would be on hold.
“I managed to get Universal Credit sorted quickly, but the five-week wait was a stressful time because I didn’t know how much I’d get, and in the meantime I was eating into the small amount of savings I had. It’s now very tight. I’ve always been good with money, but Universal Credit barely covers my rent and bills so I have to be really careful.
“It’s a constant worry thinking about the future. I want to get back to work as soon as possible, but who knows when that will be?”
Notes to editors
- Between 29 June - 3 July the charity’s frontline advisers helped 1,605 people with redundancy issues in England and Wales.
- Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
- Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and post. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers.
- The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free, independent support for prosecution and defence witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales.
- Citizens Advice offers Pension Wise services at 500 locations in England and Wales.
- Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
- To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
- For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 to talk in Welsh.
- We helped 2.6 million people face to face, by phone, email and webchat in 2017-18. For service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.
- Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.