Record high number of people supported by Citizens Advice in ‘bleakest-ever’ start to a year
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Citizens Advice have said they’ve supported a record high number of people so far in 2023. The organisation has described it as their ‘bleakest-ever’ start to a year.
Citizens Advice said that the number of people needing crisis support such as food bank referrals or charitable grants increased by 178%. They added that for the first time on record, more people than ever faced a monthly bills deficit where they had more going out than coming in.
Citizens Advice says record numbers are checking their benefits entitlement as people do everything they can to keep their heads above the water. Government support measures, such as cost of living payments, have previously provided temporary respite to people and led to dips in the number of people seeking support from the charity, but demand rapidly returns to previous levels.
It was also revealed that during the first quarter of 2023 more people than ever faced a monthly bills deficit - where their income didn’t cover their basic bills. For the first time ever, more than half (51.6%) of people seeking support for debt from Citizens Advice were in this position.
Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The cost-of-living crisis is far from over. The fact we’ve experienced our bleakest ever start of the year shows the government cannot afford to turn their gaze away from the issues people are facing.
“Millions of people are doing everything they can but it’s still not enough. Too many people are living on empty, simply unable to pay their bills and put food on the table. And while staff and volunteers in local offices work tirelessly every day to help people, there’s only so much we can do.
“We can see government support helps, but more is needed in the future for struggling households. For many, life is getting worse, not better.”