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Citizens Advice warns of a rise in the number of people needing benefits support

The latest figures come as the charity marks its 80th anniversary.

New figures published today by Citizens Advice show an increase in the number of people seeking benefits advice and support, as the charity marks its 80th anniversary.

Around 740,000 people turned to Citizens Advice with benefit problems over the last year (2018-19), a 4% increase on the previous year (2017-18).

The data also reveals that 930,000 people needed consumer advice or help with utilities, an 11% increase on the same time last year.

Meanwhile, 380,000 people required debt support and guidance, an increase of 2%, and 260,000 people needed help with housing issues, up 3%.

Overall, 29 million people visited the charity’s website (up 7%), 1.3 million people were helped face-to-face (also up 7%), 900,000 used their phone service (up 2%), 600,000 called the consumer hotline (up 13%), and 300,000 contacted Citizens Advice via email or webchat (up 33%).

The latest figures come as Citizens Advice celebrates its 80th anniversary since it was founded at the onset of World War 2, with an initial aim to help families living through the Blitz.

Citizens Advice now helps around 2.7 million people, with 100,000 more people advised this year compared to last.

According to the charity, 42% of all individuals it has supported in the last year suffer with a long term health condition or disability.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Throughout our 80-year history, we’ve constantly adapted to provide advice in the way people need it.

“From using converted horseboxes to reach people affected by the Blitz in the 1940s, to now providing help through online chat, email and video services, we make sure people can find help wherever they need it.

“This year we’ve helped more people than ever before to find the knowledge and confidence they need to move forward, whoever they are and whatever their problem.

“We’re here for anyone who needs free, impartial and independent advice.”

Margaret, volunteer with Wokingham Citizens Advice, said: “For me there’s no other charity or organisation like Citizens Advice and I am really proud to say I am a volunteer.

“Many people who come in distraught and upset, but when they leave they are calmer and seem in a better place. And that’s because of the help they received.

“As a widow volunteering gives me purpose. It gives me a reason to get up in the morning.”

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