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Three months of a pandemic: Citizens Advice data shows furlough is the most popular advice topic - but redundancy concerns on the rise

12 June 2020

Citizens Advice is warning its data shows that people are becoming increasingly concerned about redundancy as the nation moves into a new phase where government support packages are scaled back.

For 66 days straight, the charity’s page on being furloughed was the number one viewed on its website. But over the last month it’s become clear that people are increasingly worried about redundancy.

The charity’s main redundancy webpage overtook furlough to be the most viewed page on 5 June and while it’s now the number two viewed page,  three other redundancy advice pages now also sit in its top 10 most viewed web pages. 

Searches on the charity’s website also show this evolution of people’s concerns. In the first month, (11 March - 10 April) the top search term was coronavirus, in the second month, furlough, and last month, redundancy. 

Citizens Advice has also found that people are no longer concentrating on the same handful of issues as they adapt to changing coronavirus challenges.

Since Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic three months ago, the advice pages on the charity’s website have been viewed more than 15.8 million times, a 24% increase on the same period last year.

In the first month the charity saw a lot of changes in what people were looking for advice on - from flight and accommodation cancellations to sick pay and what to do if you can’t pay your bills. 

By mid April, when the lockdown was well underway and government interventions in place, Citizens Advice saw the top five issues become very clear. Furlough, self employment, benefits, not being able to pay bills, and Universal Credit were consistently the most viewed pages.

But over the last month, as things are moving towards a new phase, the data shows the pattern reverting to being more volatile.

In the last four weeks, as well as redundancy page views being on the rise, pages on ending your tenancy have crept into the top six most viewed. While numbers are lower, the page on divorce has been in the top five most viewed pages on Sunday’s since mid-May.

As lockdown measures continue to be relaxed, and government interventions start to wind down, Citizens Advice expects to see continual changes as problems re-emerge. The charity anticipates it will see issues similar to the start of the pandemic like people struggling to pay bills and seeking advice on sick pay and benefits.

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

“People are going to feel worried and stressed as the effects of coronavirus continue to be felt in the weeks, months and even years ahead.

“Our data gives an early warning of the different challenges coming down the road as people navigate the economic consequences of Covid-19.

“As more and more companies lay off staff, we’ve seen people searching for advice on redundancy ramp up over the last month.

“With lockdown measures continuing to ease and protections on jobs and bills starting to be scaled back, it’s vital government listens to these worries and adapts their policies accordingly." 

GRAPHS

MONTH ONE: RAPIDLY CHANGING CONCERNS

March-April Website Trends

MONTH TWO: CONCERNS BECOME MORE CONSISTENT 

Apr-May Website Trends

MONTH THREE: ISSUES BECOME MORE VARIED AND DEMAND FOR REDUNDANCY ADVICE RISES

May - June Website Trends

Notes to editors

You can find more information on coronavirus on the Citizens Advice website here

  1. The web stats measure page views of 30 seconds and over, so we do not count short visits where readers would not read the page. We exclude the advisors in our network who are logged in to see our specialist content

  2. 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. 

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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.