At Citizens Advice, we help people find a way forward. Whatever your problem is, whatever is keeping you awake at night (Assuming your little ones are letting you get any sleep that is!). We provide free, confidential and independent advice to help people overcome their problems. So, whether you are a single parent, a grandparent, divorced, married, whatever your situation sometimes we all need a little help or a steer in the right direction (almost like a Sat Nav for the challenges life throws at us)!
After the chaos and expense of Christmas this is the time of year when everyone seems to take stock and tackle their problems. As you can see from the graph below advice demand significantly increases in January.
By far the most common issues are Benefits, Housing & Debts which isn’t surprising given they often come hand in hand. And if you start to have employment issues, if not addressed, can quickly escalate to issues with debts and building up rent arrears. Quite often clients will come in to discuss their debts and it can quickly snowball into other areas of their life such as their employment or family matters.
A typical example is when a client – lets call her Louise – came into to discuss a housing query, who resides in an Orbit property and is a single mother. Louise asked us for help in fighting a repossession order on her housing. Louise is on Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit. Louise is currently working on a zero hours contract but has been suffering with depression. She has been signed off work so consequently has had no income for a period of time. This built up council tax arrears along with unpaid energy bills. Louise had been given her P45 but wasn’t clear on the reasons for dismissal.
After dropping in for advice, the team referred Louise to the Money Advice Team to assist her with her budgeting. The court desk specialist assisted Louise in court to ensure they had the best chance possible in fighting her court case. We also made an application for a hardship grant as she needed a washing machine and flooring for her house and furniture for her child. We advised her to contact her employer regarding the reasons for her dismissal.
So Louise’s initial appointment ended up covering housing, debt, benefits and employment advice. This is a fairly typical scenario which for our talented Citizens Advice Advisers is clear to see. They know the right questions to ask to help unpick all the issues that are going on and refer the client to the appropriate specialist adviser, if necessary. Our advice is always seek help sooner rather than later, there might be much more help out there than you think!
This is just one example. We offer a wide range of support from advise such as your legal rights when needing time off work , help claiming Universal Credit, support available for carers, mortgage problems, consumer rights issues, problems at work or help finding a good energy supplier we can assist with all of these and more.
To keep up to date with the latest Citizens Advice news please follow the local Citizens Advice South Warwickshire facebook page whereby we will post local and national issues affecting our clients.