Citizens Advice Newcastle sees a huge increase in people seeking advice on benefits and employment.
The charity has seen unprecedented demand from members of the public seeking advice on benefit and employment issues as the impact of the Coronavirus epidemic continues to develop.
Data from Citizens Advice Newcastle shows that enquiries about benefits increased by 30% in the second 2-weeks in March (16th – 31st March) compared with the first 2-weeks in March (1st – 15th March).
Enquiries related to employment also saw a 10-fold increase in the second 2-weeks of the month compared to the first 2-weeks whilst enquiries for debt, housing, consumer, energy and tax fell by almost half as people focused on securing their incomes.
The types of queries people want advice and support on were, how to claim benefits after being made redundant, employers not abiding by social distancing guidelines, people unsure of their employment status and how to ask their employer whether they’ll be furloughed through the Government Job Retention Scheme.
Our advisers also witnessing an increase in queries from the self-employed about how the Governments Income Support Scheme will be implemented and how they can manage their finances before they receive their payment in June.
Shona Alexander, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Newcastle stated.
“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.
“From the queries we are receiving from members of the public, people are still worried about their finances, when they’ll receive their next income and at what level.
“Employers need to be as open and transparent with their employees as possible about whether or not they’ll be furloughed, what is expected with home-working or providing support if staff are required to self-isolate. Further clarity from government about how the schemes they’ve announced will work in practice will improve this.
“These are unprecedented times, and now, more than ever people need security and understanding of their individual circumstances, whether that be home-working whilst home-schooling children or self-isolating due to an underlying health condition.”
Help and information is available, 24 hours a day, via the Citizens Advice website - https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
Citizens Advice Newcastle is still running a service and providing advice on all areas, including benefits, employment, debt, housing and energy. However, with all our staff working from home, we can only provide advice via the telephone, email and webchat. To contact us, please use the following channels.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
telephone - 03444 111 444
For debt advice – email@example.com
For home energy advice - firstname.lastname@example.org