Citizens Advice Newcastle has been running a service with advisers working from home. As a service, we are still providing the full range of advice to residents i.e. benefits, debt, energy, housing, employment, amongst many others. The advice is provided to residents by telephone, email and web chat. We have, and will continue to campaign for policy change throughout this epidemic and beyond by collecting evidence, working with national CA, other local CA offices and our stakeholders.
Citizens Advice Newcastle is unique, in that we can provide a real-time insight into the issues people are facing as the epidemic and the policies stances taken as a response to the crisis continue to evolve. Below, we highlight the changing nature of the issues people were seeking advice from us about between the 1st March 2020 to the 16th April 2020 (using fortnightly snapshots), the types of issues we are seeing and areas that require further clarifications to provide security for residents.
Fortnightly comparison of changing advice needs (1st March to 16th April)
Until the middle of March, the volumes and types of cases and advice that people sought from us matched normal expectations. However, in the second two weeks of March (16th to 31st March) we had seen significant shifts in the issues that people had been seeking advice on, as the chart below shows. In the first two weeks of April (1st April to 16th April), we have seen this trend intensify, with an even higher percentage of people contacting us requiring benefit or employment advice whilst queries to our other areas of advice continue to fall.
We expect that residents are still experiencing issues with other areas of advice (debt, energy, housing, consumer, family matters etc), but are either putting these issues to one side for the time being or still trying to sort out there immediate financial security (through employment or benefit claim) before addressing secondary issues.
Whilst we have seen a significant decrease in people seeking advice about most areas of advice (debt, energy, housing, consumer or family matters etc), we are continuing to see an increase in two areas, benefits and employment.
As a service, we are concerned that there are still many employed people falling through the gaps in provision announced by the government. This graphic shows those who are still at risk.
Based on our findings, Citizens Advice Newcastle recommends that the following changes still need to be made…
Further changes to the Job Retention Scheme’s guidance & rules for people in the shielded group or who need to stay at home with someone in the shielded group. This should:
Beyond gaps in the existing system, one potential challenge on the horizon is employers making workers redundant and choosing not to put them on the scheme. The government may want to evaluate further contingencies, should the number of workers in this group be significant. We have identified two main contingency routes:
For further information, please contact - Neil Duffy, Research and Campaigns Officer, Citizens Advice Newcastle on email@example.com or 07741659766
All our face-to-face advice sessions are CLOSED until further notice.
Newcastle City Council is proposing to bring in tighter licensing rules for private landlords in some parts of the City. This is to support landlords to look after their properties, and protect vulnerable tenants. The consultation lasts until 31 January.
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Are you worried about your fuel bills this winter? Our specialist home energy advisors can help. Phone 07741 659766 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Our drop-in advice sessions at City Library are now CLOSED until further notice.
Northern Powergrid provides all the electricity infrastructure here in the North East: major cables, pylons, sub-stations etc. They also provide emergency services for power cuts, storms, floods and bad winter weather. They are putting together their business plan for the next few years and would like to hear your views on it.
We have a great partnership with the Wise Group, providing people with the 1-1 help and support they need to get jobs, re-train or start a new career.
Have you lost your job, or are you under threat of redundancy? There is help available. We can help you with redundancy advice and guidance and you can also get free job-hunting help and support from the Skills Hub.
Pleased to have contributed to this important international research report, Automated Hardship, on how recent benefit changes affect lots of our clients
Worried about your fuel bills this winter? You could get £140 off your electricity bill for 2020-21