Citizens Advice experiences record demand for housing advice as coronavirus escalates

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CITIZENS Advice is experiencing record-breaking demand for advice as the coronavirus crisis has escalated across the UK, the charity has reported.

Citizens Advice, founded in 1939, saw the record for highest daily number of visitors to its website topped four times last week as people surged to the charity looking for help.

The charity’s website had 2.2 million pageviews last week, up 50% compared to this time last year, with interest peaking on Thursday 19 March when it had 390,000 views in a single day – a 70% increase on the previous Thursday.

The charity’s web data over the past week showed demand to be particularly high for advice on redundancy, benefits relating to income and Universal Credit, and what people should do if they can’t afford to top up their prepayment meter.

The data hints a growing concern for homelessness and fuel poverty across the UK as household incomes get hit hard by the outbreak.

Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We are living in an extraordinary time and it’s important people know they’re not alone. We’re here to help in this time of national crisis.

“At Citizens Advice we are constantly using our data and insights to adapt our work to address the challenges people face and this won’t change.

“This web data helps make clear the problems people are coming to us about, and what’s still needed to ensure no one is pushed into hardship due to this pandemic.”

Citizens Advice reported that it initially noticed an increase in visitors to its site on the second week of March as people started looking for information on flight and accommodation cancellations.

However, at the start of last week, the charity saw a huge rise in views of its new, dedicated page on coronavirus and its advice page related to sick pay, as the latter attracted 100,000 views during the week.

While the rate of increase on these pages slowed by the middle of the week, more people started looking for advice about their prepayment meter – the charity’s page on this saw the biggest single rise in percentage terms as it was viewed 27,000 times last week compared to just 1,000 the week before.

Demand on the Citizens Advice website remains high, as the charity is now starting to see a rise in pages relating to redundancy and benefits, showing that people are already worried about falling into debt to stay in their homes.

Last week, the government announced a temporary ban on new evictions of renters in social and private accommodation for at least three months as it looks to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

However, earlier this week, Shelter accused the government of not going far enough with its measures as it warned that an estimated 20,000 evictions of renters already going through the courts could still take place.



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