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New figures from Citizens Advice Cymru lay bare the scale of financial crisis caused by Coronavirus in Wales

22 Ebrill 2020

New research published today by Citizens Advice Cymru lays bare the scale of the financial crisis caused by Coronavirus in Wales.

The figures show: 

  • Around 250,000 people in Wales (17% of the total workforce) have already seen their hours cut, been laid off, or made redundant as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

  • Four out of 10 (42%) people have lost household income because of this crisis, with nearly one in 14 (7%) losing 80% or more of their household income.

  • One in four people (25 %) have applied or expect to apply for benefits as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Citizens Advice Cymru has helped more than 11,000 people since the current lockdown began. Local Citizens Advice services have rapidly transformed their services to adapt to social distancing measures.  Citizens Advice RCT are piloting engagement over social media (through direct messages and messenger services) as well as offering advice services through WhatsApp. Citizens Advice Ynys Mon has a weekly slot on their local radio station where they’re able to give updates and advice, as well as offering Skype and Zoom sessions for clients.

But confusion over entitlements and eligibility means some people may not receive the financial support they are entitled to.  This is reflected in Citizens Advice Cymru’s own service data, which shows:

  • 6,600 people have come to our advisers since the lockdown began requiring help with issues relating to their benefit entitlements - more than half of (57%) of our total clients in that period.

  • Most people who need advice on their benefit entitlements seek information on types of support and eligibility, and advice on applying for support, particularly after having difficulty making applications.

  • The number of people coming to Citizens Advice Cymru for advice on employment issues is more than three times higher than the same period last year.

It's clear that many people aren’t aware what they’re entitled to or are struggling with the claims process, and inconsistencies in information and process of application for benefits administered at Local Authority level may prevent individuals from applying for benefits at the point they need them.  Citizens Advice Cymru are urging the Welsh Government to take steps to increase awareness and understanding of benefits entitlements and support, and encourage people to check what benefits they are entitled to.  

Rebecca Woolley, Director of Citizens Advice Cymru, said: 

“Families in Wales have seen their lives turned upside down by Coronavirus, and these new figures show just how many people have lost their jobs or seen their incomes slashed because of the pandemic.

“In these difficult times, people are turning to Citizens Advice Cymru for support, and I’m incredibly  proud that across the country our local Citizens Advice services are there to support people in need - with many of them rapidly transforming their services to adapt to social distancing measures.

“However, it's increasingly clear that many people simply aren’t aware of what they’re entitled to or how to claim it.  The Welsh Government needs to do more to encourage people to claim the financial support they are entitled to.”

Case Study

Father of two, Jeffrey Evans from RCT, is unable to work due to Covid19. His wife is a nurse in the NHS. They’ve had to apply for Universal Credit to top up their income while Jeffrey isn’t working. Due to his wife’s now fluctuating hours because of the pandemic they don’t know much support they’ll receive from their claim.

Jeffrey Evans said: 

“I can’t work now due to Covid-19 so I applied for Universal Credit.  But I had difficulties with my claim and I couldn’t get through on the DWP helpline.  I spoke to an advisor from my local Citizens Advice and they helped me with my application.

“But even though I’ve now made a claim, I still don’t know how much support I’ll receive as my wife is working as a nurse in the NHS and her hours are fluctuating due to the pandemic.  It's impossible to plan or budget”.

Ends 

Notes for Editors

  1. Figures are from polling conducted by Opinium on behalf of Citizens Advice.  Total sample size was 501 adults in Wales. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2 and 7 April by Opinium. The data was weighted by age and gender to be representative of the population in Wales.

For more information please contact Rob Palmizi on rob.palmizi@citizensadvice.org.uk