We know it from family, friends, mainstream and social media, even the level of compliance with lockdown instructions – we are all anxious and perplexed by uncertainty about where all this ends. Trustworthy information has never been more important.
At Citizens Advice national and local level researchers review official sources alongside their own information gathered from thousands of clients in real time.
This week Citizens Advice published research* in which 20% of adults say they have applied or expect to apply for benefits as a result of the crisis. This rises to 68% of people on zero-hours contracts. This is on top of official figures showing over 1.5 million households applied for universal credit claim between 1st March and 12th April.
Underlining the financial problems facing so many families Resolution Foundation** uses official data to show 73% of households reporting a fall in income (Chart 1 below).
They confirm the seriousness of the problem by pointing out that “in 2018, more than half of families on low-to-middle incomes reported having no savings at all”. The foundation illustrates the acceleration in new claims for universal credit in an extraordinary chart again based on official data (Chart 2 below).
What should be done?
Citizens Advice recognises the government’s achievement in rapidly putting in place protection plans for jobs and incomes. But too many people are slipping through the safety net and at real risk of deprivation.
Urgent action is needed both to fill the gaps in employment support and strengthen the benefit system. On benefits, maintaining universal credit advance payments as repayable loans looks increasingly unsustainable.
* One in five to need support from benefits system amid employment crisis, Citizens Advice, 21/04/20
** The economic effects of coronavirus in the UK, Utilising timely economic indicators, Resolution Foundation, 17/04/20