New figures Citizens Advice shared exclusively with the BBC show three quarters of people seeking help with benefits or employment in 2020 had never contacted the charity before with many getting in touch for the first time in their lives after losing their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic. Of 481,834 people seeking advice on benefits, 351,620 (73%) had never asked the charity for help before.
Citizens Advice advisors gave one-to-one advice to 1.1m people in 2020, averaging 12 people a minute, and it amassed a record-breaking 47.7m website page views, a 23% rise on 2019.
Contact centre manager Jamie McGlynn said:
“We’re seeing people who have always been employed, say for 20 years at the same company, and need help navigating the benefits system for the first time after being made redundant. We’d usually expect it to quieten down at Christmas, but we’re on track to see double the number of people as last December.”
Alistair Cromwell, acting CEO of Citizens Advice, said:
“The data allows us to map the trajectory of the pandemic and its effect on people’s lives. But the one constant has been the demand for advice. Over the past 10 months our frontline advisers have helped more than a million people, each with their own story and struggle.”