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Mum’s no longer the word: people ask the internet before family for advice

26 August 2014

People turn to internet search engines for advice rather than their family, new research reveals.

The findings are from national charity Citizens Advice. Last year over a third of the UK online population went to the charity’s advice website for help with 78 per cent (12.4 million people) coming from internet searches.

Half of people (46 per cent) say they are most likely to turn to internet search engines when they need advice. They are far less likely to ask their family, though mums are the relative people turn to most for help (1 in 5).

The research also finds that, if they could, people would turn to stars including Stephen Fry, Kylie Minogue, Martin Lewis, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey and Alan Sugar for advice. The wish-list also includes both David and Victoria Beckham as well as new Dr Who actor Peter Capaldi.

Some celebrities turned up on both the list people would choose to turn to as well as who they wouldn’t think of getting advice from, including Katie Price, Jeremy Clarkson, Russell Brand and reality TV star Joey Essex.

The new research reveals over half (55 per cent) of people needed advice over the past year.

Money is the top issue with half (51 per cent) of people  needed help with their  finances in the last 12 months, mirroring the fact that Citizens Advice helped people with over 1.6 million  debt problems in the last year.

Work is the second most common issue people need help with over a third (35 per cent) needing help in the last 12 months. Basic rights at work is the most popular page on the charity’s Adviceguide website with over half a million people referring to it in the last 12 months.

An online survey of over 2,000 people carried out between 23 July and 5 August 2014 reveals:

  • A quarter (25 per cent) will ask their partner or spouse for advice.
  • Women are more likely to ask their mum for advice, while men are more likely to ask their dad.
  • Younger people are twice as likely to need advice around housing than people aged 35 or over.
  • People aged 35 and over are twice as likely to need pensions advice.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:

"Good advice can transform people’s lives. In this digital age we’re seeing a profound change in people’s first port of call when they need advice, as they choose to put their faith in the internet rather than the conventional wisdom of the people closest to them.

"The economy may be improving but we know that for many people money is still tight as the benefits of the financial recovery are slow to trickle down. Employment figures are heading in the right direction, though for some people this means taking unstable jobs, for example on zero hour contracts, which can leave them in a precarious situation.

"Citizens Advice has been at the heart of communities for 75 years now, giving advice to anyone about anything. Last year over a third of the UK’s online population visited our Adviceguide website and we’re developing our phone service too. As the life decisions people face grow increasingly complicated it’s more important than ever that we’re here for the next 75 years and beyond, ready to help people solve their problems."

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Notes to editors:

  1. Survey Monkey poll of 2,020 people carried out between 23 July and 5 August 2014.
  2. The top ten celebrities people would turn to advice are:
  3. This year the Citizens Advice service celebrates its 75th anniversary. We’ve planned a year of activity running from January to December 2014. Contact the press office on 03000 231 080, or via email at press.office@citizensadvice.org.uk, to find out more.
  4. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service 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 see the Citizens Advice website.
  5. 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.
  6. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also get advice online at adviceguide.org.uk
  7. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  8. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.1 million clients on 6.6 million problems from April 2012 to March 2013. For full 2012/2013 service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  9. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 22,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.