Disability Benefits and Urgent Debts Show Biggest Surge
- Publish Date: 2010/09/01 - (Rev. 2016/06/13)
- Author: Citizens Advice Bureaux
Outline: Citizens Advice Bureaux across England and Wales dealt with more benefits problems than last year.
Citizens Advice Bureaux across England and Wales dealt with 6% more benefits problems during the three months April-June 2010, then they did in the same period last year.
New figures show that in Q1 of this financial year (2010/11) the overall rise in welfare benefits inquiries was mainly due to large increases in advice on sickness and disability related benefits:
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) rose 77% (from 25,528 problems in Q1 09/10 to 45,257 in Q1 10/11)
- Carers Allowance rose 17% (from 11,558 problems in Q1 09/10 to 13,488 in Q1 10/11)
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA) rose 11% (from 98,380 problems in Q1 09/10 to 108,742 in Q1 10.11)
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive at Citizens Advice said: "Since ESA was introduced in October 2008 Citizens Advice has been monitoring its impact. We have previously published reports expressing our concern about poor knowledge of ESA rules among Jobcentre Plus and DWP medical staff, inadequate administration systems and the crude nature of the work capability assessment. This Autumn, claimants on the old Incapacity Benefit will switch to ESA. With so many flaws in the current system we predict the number of people who come to us for advice on this benefit will only continue to increase."
In Q1 2010/11 problems relating to consumer credit debts showed a slight decrease for the first time in two years. However there were still significant increases in inquiries about most priority debts, which are those where the consequences of not paying are most serious.
- Water supply debts rose 18% - (from 18,191 in Q1 09/10 to 21,395 in Q1 10/11)
- Council tax arrears rose 7% - (from 36,953 in Q1 09/10 to 39,460 in Q1 10/11)
- Telephone debts rose 7% - (from 18,323 in Q1 09/10 to 19,613 in Q1 10/11)
- Rent arrears to private landlords rose 18% - (from 5,628 in Q1 09/10 to 6,621 in Q1 10/11)
Gillian said: "The pattern of debt problems we see is shifting slightly. Lower rates of lending probably explain the reduced demand for consumer credit debt advice. However we continue to see very significant increases in problems with priority debts, those where the consequences of non payment could result in losing your home, having your fuel supply cut off or a court ordering a bailiff to take your goods. Recent budget measures will have a significant impact on vulnerable households, and with the impending public sector job cuts we expect to see a new wave of people seeking advice about job loss and related benefits and the impact this has on their ability to repay debt."
Other notable increases in inquiry in Q1 2010/11 compared to the same quarter last year are:
- Higher Education up 24%
- Local Authority Housing up 18%
- Actual Homelessness up 13%
- Domestic violence up 19%
Gillian concluded: "Over the last two years we've had longer opening hours and seen more people due to extra funding to help in the recession. However, this funding is due to end soon which will reduce the number of people we are able to help .
"Demand for CAB services is at a record level and although the recession is technically over the effects will be felt among households of all types for a long time to come."
Inquiries to Citizens Advice Bureaux in England & Wales
|1 April - 30 June 2009||1 April - 30 June 2010||Percentage increase|
|Benefits & tax credits||490,479||517,956||6%|
|Consumer Goods & Services||31,616||34,399||9%|
|Financial Products & Services||33,860||32,199||- 5%|
|Health & Community Care||18,127||19,224||6%|
|Immigration, Asylum & Nationality||21,856||24,686||13%|
|Relationships & Family||77,632||84,620||9%|
|Signposting & Referral||45,920||42,330||- 8%|
|Travel, Transport & Holidays||10,948||13,108||20%|
|Utilities & Communications||27,126||22,954||-15%|
Advice trends, a quarterly publication which summarizes Citizens Advice top level advice statistics is available at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/advice_trends
1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more information in England and Wales see www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality. For online advice and information see www.adviceguide.org.uk
3. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.1 million clients on 7.1 million problems from April 2009 to March 2010, an 18% increase on the previous year. For full 2009/2010 service statistics see:
4. Out of 22 national charities, the Citizens Advice service is ranked by the general public as being the most helpful, approachable, professional, informative, effective / cost effective, reputable and accountable. (nfpSynergy's Brand Attributes survey, May 2010).
5. Most Citizens Advice service staff are trained volunteers, working at around 3,300 service outlets across England and Wales.
6. Volunteer hotline 08451 264264 (local rate)
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