Citizens Advice warns of ‘Perfect Storm’ for benefit claimants
Citizens Advice is warning about three changes in September that are going to make it very hard for people to make ends meet:
- The end to the Universal Credit uplift
- The end of the COVID-19 Furlough scheme
- The energy price cap hike
We’ve seen a 68% increase since last summer in people looking at how much they could get when claiming Universal Credit. This suggests many people are worried about losing their jobs or not being able to work enough hours to make ends meet.
Our previous research shows that 2.3 million people receiving Universal Credit will be pushed into the red by the cut. It warns people are one and a half times more likely to claim Universal Credit in areas the government has prioritised for levelling up.
New Citizens Advice data published today highlights the precarious state of people’s finances heading into the autumn:
- Referrals for further charitable support have surged. Advice on grants and in-kind support – including for furniture, clothes and toiletries – is up 91% compared to summer 2019. Referrals to food banks are up 30% on last summer
- Increasing worries about income. The charity’s webpage on how much Universal Credit people will receive has had 50% more page views this summer than last summer. Views of its debt advice webpage on increasing your income rose to their highest-ever level this August.
- Increasing fuel debt problems as an energy price rise looms. The number of people Citizens Advice helps with fuel debt has risen over the pandemic, and they’re often facing other debts too. Their situation will be worsened as maximum energy prices increase by well over £100 a year for both default tariffs and prepayment meter customers in October.
What should I do if my energy supplier has failed?
- If you’re a customer of a failed supplier, Ofgem will move you onto a different one. This can take a few weeks, but your gas and electricity supply will continue in the meantime.
- Your new supplier will contact you and it’s good to be prepared beforehand. Take a note of meter readings, keep old energy bills and make a note of your account balance.
- Wait until your new supplier is appointed before cancelling any direct debits. This should all make the transition easier.
- You can find more information on the Citizens Advice website.
- Contact us for advice