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Citizens Advice East Herts: 'Spring Statement needs to go further to help those in need'

Last Wednesday (March 23) the Government announced a package of measures in its Spring Statement, including doubling the Household Support Fund distributed by councils to those most at need.

While we welcome the measures, Citizens Advice East Herts does not think these go far enough to tackle the cost-of-living crisis which is affecting millions of people across the UK.

The results of MRP polling in the Hertford and Stortford constituency highlights the extent of the problem:

Citizens Advice East Herts on cost of living crisis (55751858)
Citizens Advice East Herts on cost of living crisis (55751858)
  • Nearly one in nine people are unable to pay their energy bills right now without cutting back on essential spending.
  • 3% of constituents are unable to pay their bills even after cutting back on essential spending.
  • In April, the number of people unable to pay their bills, even after cutting back on essential bills, will increase by 136%.
  • 85% of people said they did not think the Energy Bills Rebate will make a difference to their bills.

On March 18, Citizens Advice published its Crunch Point report which estimated the predicted £145-a-month hikes to energy costs in October could mean one in four adults – equivalent to 14.5 million people – will be unable to afford their bill.

In short, families are being squeezed from all sides by high inflation, low benefit levels and soaring energy bills. We’re incredibly worried about how people on the lowest incomes will cope.

Here at Citizens Advice East Herts, we want to see:

  • Increased benefits in line with current inflation, rather than last September's rate
  • An expansion of the Warm Home Discount
  • The bringing forward of a more generous energy rebate.
Citizens Advice East Herts chief executive Laura Hyde (55748824)
Citizens Advice East Herts chief executive Laura Hyde (55748824)

More people are seeking one-to-one support from Citizens Advice than at any point during the Covid-19 pandemic. Strikingly, we’re seeing the highest numbers on record coming to us for crisis support such as food bank referrals.

In the last week alone, Citizens Advice advisers have supported a parent who had to turn off their appliances and take their children’s clothes to their mother’s house to be washed to save on energy costs.

* Citizens Advice East Herts is a registered charity. If you need help, call our Message Line on 01920 459944 anytime (we aim to return calls within 24 hours, except weekends) or visit www.citizensadviceeastherts.org.uk for our advice options.

You can also visit our information hub at Jackson Square shopping centre on Tuesdays between 12pm and 2pm, where our friendly staff can help you access our advice service.

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