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Labour market figures show "devastating" impact of crisis on household incomes

19 May 2020

Citizens Advice has responded to the publication of new ONS labour market figures today.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Each job loss can mean a household struggling to make rent, cover their bills or pay for the food shop.

“The Job Retention Scheme has so far prevented more redundancies, but the pandemic has still been devastating for household incomes. And it could take a long time for the economy to recover. 

“With millions struggling to keep their heads above water, the government must ensure people can access adequate support through the benefits system and don’t face eviction or harsh debt collection as a result of this pandemic.”

“I’m stuck. There are no jobs and when my freezer runs out I have no food”

Matt, 29,  from Devon, lost his job in food export in February. One of the main countries for export was China, and when coronavirus hit demand dried up. Matt was on a zero-hours contract but had worked for the company for five years, often doing long shifts. He sought help from his local Citizens Advice who have supported him in seeking redundancy pay from his employer. 

Matt has since applied for Universal Credit. His payments don’t cover his living costs, and he has relied on his mother to lend him money for food and necessities. He says:

“My boss rang me and said there’s no job for you at the moment, there's no hours, and even if  this blows over, they doubted there’d be a full time job for me. That was quite a shock to the system, I didn't know how to react to be honest. I know businesses everywhere are struggling, but this was a company that I’d worked for for a long time, so I felt really let down.  

“I’m stuck. There are no jobs and when my freezer runs out I have no food. A lady from the local food bank is dropping around parcels and I’m really grateful for that. The constant worries about money and work have left me feeling really low, and living alone and not being able to work makes things even more isolating.”

 Notes to Editors

  1. Office for National Statistics claimant count has increased to 2.1 million, while the number of employees has declined by 350,000 compared to April last year, a decline of 1.6%. Unemployment figures January - March 2020

  2. People can find frequently updated advice on a range of issues related to the coronavirus outbreak at

  3. The availability of face-to-face services will be affected during the outbreak. If people need to speak to someone for advice, they should check our website for the status of their nearest Citizens Advice.

  4. Citizens Advice is made up of the national charity Citizens Advice; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.

  5. Our network of charities offers impartial advice online and over the phone for free. 

  6. We helped 2.7 million people face to face, over the phone, by email and webchat in 2018-19. And we had 29 million visits to our website. For full service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.

  7. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 for Welsh language speakers.