Citizens Advice will receive a funding boost of up to £15m to help them deal with increased demand for advice and information from the public during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The funding will allow them to increase their capacity so they can continue to deliver advice on a range of issues, such as if a person cannot pay their bills due to coronavirus, or how they can protect themselves from or report a coronavirus-related scam.
The money is part of a £750 million pot announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help frontline charities continue their vital work during the outbreak.
In line with government advice on social distancing, Citizens Advice, which operates in England and Wales, and Citizens Advice Scotland have temporarily closed their 331 offices, suspended outreach services and shifted their advice services online and over the phone.
They have since seen a significant increase in demand for telephone advice and webchats, and this UK Government funding will help them to continue to deliver their services remotely as well as ensuring their online content reflects the most up to date advice.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has led the allocation of funding to support charities providing key services to help vulnerable people during the crisis.
Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Scully said:
“Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland have continued to provide an invaluable service to the public throughout this deeply unsettling period.
“Now more than ever, it is imperative people have access to free, confidential advice on money, legal and consumer problems.
“This funding will ensure Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland have the right resources to provide people with the support they need, when they need it most.”
UK Government Minister for Wales David TC Davies said:
“Citizens Advice provides vital support to people in Wales on a range of issues, many of which will have been exacerbated by the current pandemic.
“The UK Government’s £15 million funding boost will allow them to meet growing demand and provide essential advice on financial and legal issues to people across Wales.”
Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“During this pandemic we've seen a surge in people coming to us for advice. We expect this demand will carry on as people’s lives continue to be affected by the economic impact of Covid-19.
“This funding will allow us to increase the support we can provide over the phone and online - especially to those who need it most.
“The effects of Covid-19 will continue to be felt for a long time. Support for Citizens Advice and other charities is crucial to making sure that everyone has access to the help they need at this incredibly challenging time.”