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Life on less than zero

13 Hydref 2020

Life on less than zero [ 1.7 mb]

The coronavirus pandemic has posed serious financial challenges for people across the country.

Our previous research estimates that 6 million UK adults have fallen behind on at least one household bill during the pandemic.

We are seeing this first-hand at Citizens Advice. Falling incomes and higher living costs mean an increasing proportion of the people we help simply cannot afford to make ends meet. Many others are on the cusp of being unable to cover their costs.

Government interventions have gone some way to support people during this crisis. But with more job losses expected, further measures are needed to safeguard living standards and support the UK’s economic recovery.

To help low-income households in the months ahead, the Government should:

  1. Make the £20 benefit uplift permanent and ensure support for legacy benefit claimants and self-employed people so that no one is left behind
  2. Provide renters access to emergency loans and grants to help pay off arrears
  3. Build on the existing support in place for low-income households with energy bills to prevent people falling into debt with their energy providers in the first place
  4. Ensure support for local authorities to help people in financial difficulty, and use flexible council tax collection practices to stop people being trapped in council tax debt