Citizens Advice sees surge in demand for redundancy advice

By Michael Race
BBC News

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Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Citizens Advice had the highest daily number of visitors to its website topped four times in one week

Citizens Advice has said people have become "increasingly concerned" about redundancies, with a surge in demand for information as the lockdown has been eased.

The charity said data showed views of redundancy advice increased in June, after its furlough information pages had "skyrocketed" in March.

Figures showed the organisation's main redundancy page amassed 296,823 views between 11 May and 10 June, a 262% rise on 81,943 visitors over the same period in 2019.

Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said the data gave an "early warning of the different challenges coming down the road as people navigate the economic consequences of Covid-19".

The charity said for 66 consecutive days, information on being furloughed was the number one viewed page on its website, before searches for redundancy advice increased in June.

The data has come as thousands of people in the UK are set to lose their jobs after a host of firms, mainly High Street retailers and aviation companies, announced cuts. More than 12,000 job losses were announced in 48 hours earlier this week, while the BBC has unveiled plans to make more than 600 redundancies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including closing the team that runs the England sections of the BBC News and Sport websites.

Image source, CA
Image caption, Furlough advice pages have been the most visited on the Citizens Advice website but redundancy page views have surged in recent weeks

Chief analyst for Citizens Advice, Tom MacInnes, said "big changes" occurred in demand for types of advice after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the furlough scheme in March.

"Demand for our main redundancy page decreased and our page on furlough advice skyrocketed," he said.

"As the economic impact of lockdown becomes clearer with many industries struggling, we've seen people becoming more concerned about redundancy again... companies are having to make difficult decisions to try and stay afloat."

The charity said data showed, as well as the rise in redundancy page views, pages on "ending your tenancy" had crept into the top six most viewed and the page on divorce had been in the top five most-viewed pages on Sundays since mid-May.

Dame Gillian said with lockdown measures continuing to be eased it was "vital government listens to these worries and adapts their policies accordingly".

Image source, CA
Image caption, CEO Dame Gillian Guy said the charity had received enquiries from "flight cancellations to web searches on redundancy and benefits claims"

Dame Gillian previously told the BBC the data showing the most popular advice pages "paints a picture of the worries of the nation" during the coronavirus pandemic.

As Covid-19 infections spread and lockdowns began across Europe in March, advice pages on claiming refunds for cancelled holidays were most popular, before searches on sick pay surged.

When the government advised the population to stay at home, pages offering guidance relating to redundancy and universal credit became the most visited and they were soon followed in popularity by searches for benefits advice.

Demand for information on being furloughed increased days later when the government launched the job retention scheme.

The charity, which opened for business the day after the outbreak of World War Two, has seen record-breaking demand for help, with its website amassing more than 15.8 million views in the months since the Covid-19 was declared a pandemic.

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