May 28, 2022 8.00 am

Citizens Advice Lincolnshire swamped by calls from people with money worries

Rising energy prices have caused thousands to look for help

By Local Democracy Reporter

A woman living in her car, a man with £30,000 debts and a mum-of-three struggling to get by are among the thousands of people who have turned to Citizens Advice Lincolnshire.

A surge in calls as energy bills soar has left the service unable to help everyone.

Around 14,500 Lincolnshire people in the 2021/22 financial year received help overall with 70,000 different issues – a significant rise from the previous year.

The service is answering more questions than ever before, and it says it doesn’t have the resources to meet the growing demand.

The scale of the crisis has been laid out in a report to go before Lincolnshire County Council next week.

Among the success stories are a woman who had contemplated suicide because she was living in her car with no one to turn to. Citizens Advice Lincolnshire helped her to get a new home.

A man suffering from anxiety due to his £30,000 debt was given help in applying for a debt relief order.

A struggling mum who was behind on her energy bills was supported in applying for £300 of energy vouchers, which she said would help her to cope.

There has been a big increase is people asking the service for help with debt, Universal Credit and tax credits, according to the report.

Energy bills are going through the roof for many households and organisations. | Photo: Adobe Stock

As bills rose in the last quarter of the financial year, more people also enquired about food and fuel vouchers.

Nearly 2,400 people were given help with Universal Credit in the last quarter of the 2021/22 financial year alone.

The advice service says:  “Demand has significantly increased in quarter four. This is mainly due to cost-of-living enquiries and dealing with the Household Support Fund. We have answered more calls than ever before, but [are] still unable to meet the increased demand due to a lack of resource.

“Although we did receive some modest funding provided via LCC Household Support Fund to answer calls, demand was so high that we were unable to meet it.

“Waiting times currently for generalist and debt appointments can be up to three weeks, due to increased demand and limited resources.”

The service has also warned the price of the cheapest food is jumping rapidly.

The report will be discussed by the council’s Public Protection and Communities Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, May 31.

The government this week announced a £400 discount for all households, partly paid for by a windfall tax on energy companies.

Low-income households will also receive a £650 payment to help them through the crisis.

If you need advice or support, Citizens Advice branches offer help for people living in Lincoln, South Lincolnshire, Mid Lincolnshire, and Lindsey.