Citizens Advice reports ‘bleakest-ever’ start to year as cases soar

Citizens Advice has helped a record 9,600 people a day on average between January and April as the cost-of-living crisis led to its “bleakest-ever” start to year.

The charity said it helped 94,000 people with food bank referrals and access to emergency charitable grants – a 178% increase on the same period in 2020.

Among them were more people who are homeless (14,300) than at any other time on record.

The number of private renters facing an eviction issue during the first four months of 2023 was 49% higher than the same period in 2020.

The number of people unable to afford to top up their energy prepayment meter has skyrocketed, with 10 times more people seeking the charity’s help on this issue so far this year than in 2020.

The first quarter of 2023 saw more people than ever facing a monthly bills deficit – where their income did not cover their basic bills – with more than half of people seeking support for debt from Citizens Advice (51.6%) in this position, the charity said.

A record 32,400 people approached the charity with energy debt in the first four months of 2023 – a 112% increase on the same period in 2020.

Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Clare Moriarty 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.”