Citizens Advice says it has seen record-breaking demand for advice since the escalation of the coronavirus pandemic with the highest daily number of visitors to its website being topped four times last week. The debt charity says that web data shows a clear picture of the changing narrative of how this crisis is affecting people in the UK.

Initially, in the second week of March, the charity saw an increase in people coming to them for information on flight and accommodation cancellations. But at the start of last week there was a big rise in views of its new, dedicated page on coronavirus, and advice pages related to sick pay.

While demand is still very high, the rate of these increases stabilised in the middle of the week and Citizens Advice is now starting to see an uptick in pages relating to redundancy, and benefits pages relating to income and Universal Credit. In the middle of last week, more people started looking for advice on what to do if you can’t afford to top up your prepayment meter, showing people are already worried about spiralling into debt.

Data shows that:

  • The website had 2.2 million pageviews last week, up 50% compared to the same time last yearPageviews in a single day peaked on Thursday 19 March at 390,000 – a 70% increase on the previous Thursday which was already higher than usual
  • Across pages that give advice on redundancy, there were 106,000 views last week compared to 36,000 the week before and 22,000 a year ago.
  • Across the pages giving advice on Universal Credit, there were 188,000 pageviews last week compared to 53,000 the week before
  • In percentage terms, the the biggest rise was on the page giving advice on if you can’t afford to top up your prepayment meter which was viewed 27,000 times last week, compared to just 1,000 the week before

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said “We are living in an extraordinary time and it’s important people know they’re not alone. We’re here to help in this time of national crisis. At Citizens Advice we are constantly using our data and insights to adapt our work to address the challenges people face and this won’t change.”

“This web data helps make clear the problems people are coming to us about, and what’s still needed to ensure no one is pushed into hardship due to this pandemic.”

Pageviews of top coronavirus issues pages

Total pageviews on the website

Pageviews of the "Coronavirus - what it means for you page"