The Hillingdon CAB is a client of Business Reporter.
1939 marked a pivotal moment in the development of the modern world. The start of World War II brought about widespread changes and the aftermath of this period brought a renewed sense of unity and solidarity. In the UK, this led to the creation of the National Health Service (NHS).
Regrettably, positive transformations often require a crisis to occur. Our world is currently facing numerous crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic, which has brought about unprecedented circumstances for many individuals. As if that wasn’t enough, we are also dealing with a global economic crisis, ongoing international conflicts, and the various human rights violations that have stemmed from these issues.
In 1939, the UK established its first 200 Citizens Advice bureaux, which were managed by volunteers and aimed to assist their local communities. Over time, their focus expanded to include tasks such as addressing ration book loss, facilitating evacuations, and locating missing loved ones and prisoners of war. Citizens Advice continues to operate today, with updated challenges but steadfast principles.
In the year 2023, Hillingdon Citizens Advice remains dedicated to assisting individuals in our community, alongside more than 250 other bureaux across the nation. While our methods of operation have been updated, our core mission remains unchanged: providing quality guidance to those in need.
This task can be challenging at times. Our team needs to have the necessary knowledge and abilities to assist individuals effectively. While we do have volunteers, we also depend on paid staff who have expertise in this area. This means we need financial resources to train and compensate our staff and provide them with the necessary tools to support the residents of the London Borough of Hillingdon. It’s not simply about giving friendly advice. Our team guides people through complicated bureaucratic systems, helps them with benefit applications, obtains legal aid, resolves immigration issues, and connects them with the resources they need to succeed.
While the council and government provide financial support, we operate as an independent charity with the sole goal of assisting the residents of Hillingdon with their issues. It is crucial that we provide aid before individuals are in a state of crisis, whenever feasible. If you have concerns, please visit your nearest CAB regardless of your location.
Our efforts often span several months or even years to assist individuals in resolving their problems. Typically, those facing one issue also have other challenges. For instance, seeking assistance from a food bank may indicate additional struggles with debt and a need for welfare support, which can contribute to family problems and mental health issues.
We are witnessing an increasing number of individuals utilizing benefits and foodbanks. However, our efforts go beyond simply assisting with benefit applications – our goal is to promote overall well-being and improve quality of life.
Hillingdon, a London borough, has its own distinct challenges. It covers a large geographic area and has a widely dispersed population. The borough also has areas of extreme poverty. In order to assist those in need, we must allocate our resources thinly. Hillingdon is home to more than 400 charities, many of which lack sufficient funding. Additionally, the borough lacks support from corporate charitable donations, a situation we aim to improve.
Millions of Britons have been hit hard with levels of inflation not seen since the 1970s, in the aftermath of Covid, Brexit, a punishing economic policy and the war in Ukraine. Poorer households have borne the brunt as they spend a larger proportion of their income on energy, the cost of which has soared.
According to a study published in BMJ Public Health, the current cost of living crisis in the UK may lead to numerous premature deaths, and this number is predicted to increase by 6.5% this year – resulting in an additional 30 deaths per 100,000 people. Additionally, there is expected to be a significant increase in the gap between the health and wealth of the richest and poorest members of society.
During challenging times, we are here to provide assistance. Our efforts are ongoing, and we continually rely on the support of new donors and volunteers within our community.
“Living on Empty” is a report published by Citizens Advice that discusses policies related to individuals living in poverty.
According to Morgan Wild, the Head of Policy at Citizens Advice, the following statements have been reworded into English:
The proportion of households in the nation with insufficient monthly income to cover their basic needs has increased by over 100% in the last two years, from 5% to 10%.
Prior to the increase in cost of living, the typical client who owed debt had a remaining balance of £33 after covering essential expenses every month. However, currently they experience an average deficit of £36 per month.
As we analyze negative budget information, we gain a timely and comprehensive understanding of individuals’ financial situations. This allows us to assess the potential effects of policy changes. To truly improve living standards, any governing body must make progress in addressing negative budgets.
Our advisors assist 50% of clients with debt who have a deficit in their budget. The bottom 25% of our debt clients have monthly essential expenses that far surpass their income – on average, they are in need of an additional £120 each month. This results in an annual deficit of over £1,400 on average.
Stephen, one of our knowledgeable advisors, assisted Linda in overcoming her debt spiral. This journey required several months and support from other team members.
Linda, a 44-year-old single mother with two young children, was unable to work due to her own chronic health issues and the high level of care needed for her disabled daughter. She shared with our advisor that she faced a reduction of £260 per month in her Universal Credit payments due to a benefit cap. Additionally, she had £50 deducted each month for Housing Benefit and Tax Credit.
Linda had to make do with only £1,700 each month, out of which £1,200 was spent on rent. She faced a difficult situation, struggling to cover basic needs and rising utility costs. With the help of foodbank vouchers, we provided her with one after every meeting. Through six months of handling her case and follow-up meetings, we managed to negotiate lower deductions with our Debt Management Team.
We assisted Linda in obtaining appropriate benefits and retroactively receiving them – as a result, her and her family’s quality of life has significantly improved.
Linda’s monetary profits
• £40 per month in reduced repayments for previous benefits
• Backdated amounts (for Carers Element, Child Disability Element, removal of benefit cap): £2,920.91
The amount of Universal Credit has gone up from £1,715.62 to £2,525.66, resulting in a monthly increase of £810.04.
• Monthly Child Disability Living Allowance: £547.52
The combined total monthly increase from UC and Child DLA is £1,357.56.
Total earnings (in a 12-month period): £19,691.60
The identities of our recipients have been altered for their safety.
Additional articles and data from Citizens Advice can be found at our website, where we are known as Citizens Advice.