Sharpe rise in employment problems

There is evidence of an emerging employment crisis in the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes despite unprecedented measures by the Government to soften the blow on businesses and individuals. Read more about the help that is available here.

Since the lockdown on 23rd March to 20th May Citizens Advice Broxtowe experienced an 158% increase in employment issues compared to the same period last year, 222 in 2020 compared to 140 in 2019. The bulk of issues relate to pay and entitlement, redundancy, dismissal, and the furlough scheme.

We are also seeing high demand from those who, as a result of loss of income, are turning to us for help with claiming benefits. Citizens Advice Broxtowe helped 651 people who called us about benefit entitlement during the same period, of which 389 asked for help with Universal Credit claims. UK wide figures for benefit claimants has increased significantly in a short period. Demonstrated in the BBC chart below.

Examples of the types of requests we have received for help with employment problems include clients who have been laid off after being certified unfit for work by their GP due to COVID-19 symptoms, another was told to go home after his mother was required to self-isolate and we have also received requests for help where workers have been refused furlough. To add to this it is likely that, as the government’s emergency measures are reduced, rates of redundancy will increase. There have been some high level redundancy announcements in recently as businesses prepare for a new normality.

The evidence in Broxtowe mirrors that of the national picture with some groups, including young people being hardest hit. Additional data  shows the total number of hours worked reducing, meaning that many people are experiencing a dramatic drop in income even if they are still in work.  The BBC reported that:

“Millions of people across the UK have had their working lives upended because of the coronavirus pandemic. While many are working from home, others have been furloughed for weeks or even made redundant.”

Here at Citizens Advice Broxtowe we continue provide help and advice for those that need it. During June we will be preparing to reopen limited face to face appointments for those whom we cannot help solely by remote means. These will be strictly by appointment, news to follow.

Volunteers Week 2020

Universal Credit – Holding up well during the pandemic

Citizens Advice have been lobbying government for many years to improve the system of Universal Credit as it was rolled out. Many of our recommendations have been adopted and Citizens Advice nationally were awarded the contract to provide Help to Claim. This help has proven invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic and we have helped many people in Broxtowe.

Nationally the Universal Credit system has faced enormous pressures. During an eight week period DWP recorded and astonishing 2.6 million new claims. So how did the system cope?

On the 27th May the Resolution Foundation published a report. ‘This time is different – Universal Credit’s first recession.’ Included in their findings the report concluded that:

“The Department for Work and Pension’s management information systems recorded 2.6 million claims for Universal Credit in eight weeks. Despite this surge its systems are generally performing well. Over 90 per cent of payments due were paid in full and on time, and the vast majority of advance payments are paid with (in) 72 hours. In our survey, 74 per cent of new UC claimants reported they were satisfied with the way DWP handled their claim.”

Citizens Advice BroxtoweHow are we doing?

Since the start of the lockdown on 23rd March to 1st June we have been busy supporting people with the problems they face. We have helped 950 people with 1943 problems. We have helped people increase their income and manage their debts. Total income gains amount to £183,735 and £101,630 of debt has been written off after our interventions.

Chief Executive, Sally Bestwick, all of the management team and trustees would like to register their appreciation to the staff who have risen to the challenge and ensured our organisation continues to provide an effective service to the residents of Broxtowe and beyond.

Vacancy – Best Practice Lead

We now have an exciting opportunity for a Universal Credit Best Practice Lead. Follow the links below to download the job pack and application form.

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