Citizens Advice has seen record-breaking demand for advice on its website over the past month with nine million pageviews, a 39% rise on the same period last year.
After an initial surge in enquiries about sick pay and redundancy, data from the charity now shows a dramatic increase in people seeking advice on paying bills and accessing benefits.
Over the month, pages on benefits were viewed over 2.2 million times, this includes just under 750,000 views of the Universal Credit pages. Advice pages on work, for example sick pay or being furloughed, were viewed 1.6 million times.
Coronavirus was the most searched word on the charity’s website, followed by people looking for information on Universal Credit and the government’s furlough scheme.
Citizens Advice, founded the day after World War II was declared, has since become a multi-channel service providing face-to-face appointments alongside phone, email and web chat.
The service, which is now only provided via telephone, email and web chat due to social distancing rules, helped 220,000 people one-to-one with specific issues over the last month
Since the charity started recording whether a problem was related to coronavirus, 32,000 people have required help with a query specific to this pandemic. Half of those wanted help with Universal Credit and a third wanted to talk about employment problems.
Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Last month we helped millions of people. Behind each enquiry was a family struggling to pay rent, someone self-employed who could no longer afford their bills, or a person attempting to claim benefits for the first time.
"These personal stories combine to paint a bigger picture of how lives have been interrupted by coronavirus.
“Not only will we continue to help as many people as we can with their individual problems, we’ll use that bigger picture to advocate for change to make sure no one is left behind.”
Graphs and trends:
The challenges that people are seeking guidance on have changed drastically over the past month, this graph shows the changes in daily rankings of the most viewed page on the Citizens Advice website.
It tells the story of how people’s concerns and problems have changed as the pandemic continues and new government measures are put in place.
After the Prime Minister announced lockdown measures on 23 March, Citizens Advice published a page on checking what benefits you can get. This quickly moved into the top 10 most viewed pages. With people having their hours cut, being laid off or made redundant, this page has remained in the top 10.
The top pages people were looking at for help online over the last month were: