Citizens Advice has revealed that a record number of people need crisis help in 2022, as the cost-of-living crisis drove more individuals than ever before to the breaking point.
In the last year, the organisation has provided more than 200,000 people with crisis support, which includes referrals to food banks and emergency charitable grants. That is 48% more than in 2021.
More over three quarters of this group (152,982) have never sought this form of assistance from Citizens Advice previously.
In December, demand for referrals to food banks skyrocketed as the organisation assisted three people per minute with urgent relief.
Citizens Advice also discovered that certain groups are suffering disproportionately from the cost-of-living problem. In 2022, more than half of the persons the organisation assisted with crisis support were handicapped or had a chronic health condition.
- The number of people helped with crisis support who were in employment increased by 155% between 2022 and 2019 (up to 23,888 from 9,373).
- The charity helped more people who couldn’t afford to top up their prepayment meter (27,521) in 2022 than the whole of the last 10 years combined.
- In the last quarter of 2022, more than half (50%) of people helped with debt advice were in a ‘negative budget’, which means the cost of essentials is more than their income. This is the first time this has happened.
Not only has the cost-of-living crisis exacerbated pre-existing difficulties, but it has also led to the emergence of new challenges for those in need of assistance.
Citizens Advice anticipates that the growing cost of living will result in an increase in the number of people requiring crisis help for the first time in the coming months.
This is owing to record-high energy costs and the ineligibility of some groups for welfare assistance.
A combination of rising interest rates and inflation will make debt one of the most pressing challenges in 2023, according to the report.
As an increasing number of individuals seek guidance on rent rises, eviction threats, and homelessness, the charity is also ringing the alarm on a developing housing crisis.
Morgan Wild, Head of Policy at Citizens Advice, said: “The cost-of-living crisis has put unprecedented pressure on people’s finances and pushed many to breaking point.
“Over the last 12 months we have seen hundreds of thousands of people coming to us for crisis support, many for the very first time.
“What has been a difficult time for us all has turned into an impossible one for many. But as people continue to cut back on essentials in a desperate attempt to keep their heads above the water, this crisis is far from over.”