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Citizens Advice Wigan Borough has helped more than 10 thousand people during the past year of the pandemic

The charity, which quickly adapted to help more people via the phone, email and webchat, says Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, and council tax arrears have been some of its top pandemic issues.

Between 1 March 2020 and 28 February this year, it has helped 4700 individuals with benefits including Universal Credit, and 1200 individual people with employment issues.

Citizens Advice Wigan Borough has seen many worrying cases such as:

  • A woman who was self-employed and lost most of her income due to the pandemic
  • An elderly woman unable to pay rent on her council property after moving into retirement housing
  • A woman who was shielding and unable to be furloughed, whose Universal Credit wasn’t enough to cover her monthly bills

Around 65% of people were helped over the phone, 20% via email, and 10% via webchat. This compares to the year before when 55% of people were helped face-to-face.

Around 45 staff and volunteers have been working from their living rooms, bedrooms, dining tables and kitchens to make sure people could still access much-needed help.

Lisa Kidston, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Wigan Borough, said: “I’d like to thank our staff and volunteers who’ve continued to help people find a way forward, as we face the problems of this pandemic together.

Our advisers have helped people check what benefits they’re entitled to, navigate the furlough scheme, and ensure they’re getting all the help and support that is on offer. We’ve also spoken to clients worried about consumer and non-consumer debt during the pandemic, for example council tax arrears, which is a growing issue.

We know people are going to continue needing our help as we begin the process of recovery, and we urge anyone that needs our support to get in touch as soon as possible. With the furlough scheme, ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, and Universal Credit uplift set to end within 6 months, now’s the time to contact our team for free, impartial, independent advice.”

For information and advice, contact Citizens Advice Wigan Borough on 08082 787 801 or visit www.cawb.org.uk.

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