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Housing and debt pressuring Advice service

Citizens Advice is a seriously impressive organisation, providing advice to the public on a whole range of topics.

I met up with Janie Moor, the CEO of Citizens Advice South Hams, at Follaton House, and heard that they are now supporting around 6,000 people a year just in the South Hams.

"The work is getting harder and harder and the complexity of problems is going up exponentially," Janie told me.

The number of calls and visits goes up every year, and the work needed to be done on behalf of clients also gets more complicated.

Despite employing 20 paid staff and around 70 volunteers, Citizens Advice South Hams struggles to respond to all calls. The big one these days is energy advice - "that's new, and huge," says Janie.

Around a quarter of all enquiries relate to benefits, with debt around 15 percent - overtaken completely by the need for advice on how to keep energy bills down.

Housing is another huge issue in the South Hams and Janie spoke of hearing really difficult stories from families who'd had to leave their rented properties at short notice and couldn't find anywhere else to live.

"The local housing allowance part of Universal Credit is set much lower than it needs to be for a rural community like ours - it might be £500 but the rent will be more like £900. It's been fixed for five years and it needs to be recalculated - it's never enough," said Janie.

CA is monitoring five categories of advice nationally to keep track of how the cost of living crisis is impacting people:

Energy Advice, PIP, charity support and foodbanks, energy debts and Council Tax arrears. All South Hams data on those topics will be fed into the national picture.



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