Citizens Advice reveals an increase in the number of people turning to its advisors for help with consumer and benefits problems this year compared to last, as well as an overall increase in demand.
Citizens Advice celebrated 80 years of service on 4 September 2019. The charity was formed at the onset of WWII and originally helped people deal with the impacts of war, such as rationing, evacuation and losing their home in the Blitz. In its 80 years of service, the organisation has helped the British public find a way forward with a wide range of problems.
Now the charity and its local network helps 2.7 million people, with 100,000 more people advised this year compared to last. Citizens Advice’s advisors help people through complex problems as 1 in 3 people have more than one issue. Of the people the charity helped, 42% of people reported they had a long term health condition or disability.
The charity’s impact report shows the number of people seeking advice face-to-face, via email, phone or webchat in the 2018/2019 financial year:
Consumer and utilities: 930,000 people, up 11% from last year
Benefits: 740,000 people, up 4% from last year
Debt: 380,000 people, up 2% from last year
Housing: 260,000 people, up 3% from last year.
People have sought help from Citizens Advice through multiple channels, and the charity’s website had more visits this year than ever before:
29 million visits to the website, a 7% increase from last year
1.3 million people helped face-to-face, a 7% increase from last year
900,000 people using the phone service, a 2% increase from last year
600,000 people calling the consumer helpline, a 13% increase on the previous year
300,000 people getting help by email or webchat, a 33% increase from last year.
In 2018/2019, for every £1 invested in Citizens Advice, the charity generated at least:
£2.07 in savings to government and public services, a total of £485 million in savings. This is by helping stop problems occurring or escalating which reduces pressure on public services like health, housing or out-of-work benefits
£10.92 in wider economic and social benefits, a total of £2.6 billion in savings. This is by solving problems that improves lives through better wellbeing, productivity and participation for the people we help.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Throughout our 80-year history, we’ve constantly adapted to provide advice in the way people need it.
“From using converted horseboxes to reach people affected by the Blitz in the 1940s, to now providing help through online chat, email and video services, we make sure people can find help wherever they need it.
“This year we’ve helped more people than ever before to find the knowledge and confidence they need to move forward, whoever they are and whatever their problem.
“We’re here for anyone who needs free, impartial and independent advice.”
Margaret, volunteer with Wokingham Citizens Advice, said:
“For me there's no other charity or organisation like Citizens Advice and I am really proud to say I am a volunteer.
“Many people who come in distraught and upset, but when they leave they are calmer and seem in a better place. And that's because of the help they received.
“As a widow volunteering gives me purpose. It gives me a reason to get up in the morning.”