Surge in Demand for Independent Advice amid Covid19 fallout

Over ½ million issues dealt with in last year by the Independent Advice Network. Social Security issues continue to dominate workload as a spike in employment and redundancy related enquiries set to grow Advice NI produces new guidance paper on redundancy.
Advice NI held its first online annual conference which discussed the ongoing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and how independent advice services are adapting to ensure that they can continue to be a lifeline for people at this most difficult time.
 
Speaking at the conference, Mathilda Taulbutt, Advice NI Chairperson said;
 
“The independent advice network has always played a key role in assisting people through difficult times. In recent years the focus has been advising and supporting people in relation to welfare reform and changes to the social security system. This is evidenced by the latest annual statistics which highlight that of the ½ million issues dealt with, 75% were social security related, and the majority of these were in relation to Personal Independence Payments and Universal Credit.”
 
Bob Stronge, Advice NI Chief Executive, said; 
 
“The Covid-19 pandemic has not only had a profound impact on households across Northern Ireland but on how independent advice providers deliver their services. The network has risen to the challenge, and it is a testament to the resilience and dedication of management staff and volunteers that independent advice services have continued to deliver for the people that rely on these services.”
 
“In response to the emerging needs of advisers and people at risk of redundancy, Advice NI is also launching a ‘Redundancy Briefing Paper’.  Despite the recent extension to the furlough scheme, Advice NI is concerned that, sadly, many businesses may find themselves unable to continue trading, or may need to reduce their staffing levels. This paper aims to increase awareness of the role of Government in acting as the ‘statutory guarantor’ in respect of certain debts which are owed to employees by their former employer.”

 
If you need advice and support at this difficult time, please Freephone 0800 915 4604 or visit www.adviceni.net to find your local independent advice centre.

Notes:
  1. For further information contact Elkie Ritchie, Advice NI 07702846030. Please note Elkie is only available for Zoom and telephone interviews at this time.
  2. Advice NI is the umbrella body for the Independent Advice Network in Northern Ireland and its members dealt with 540,983 enquiries in 2019/20, 75% being social security benefits related. For more information log on to www.adviceni.net.
  3. Advice NI Briefing Paper – Redundancy: Debts owed to you by your employer: How to claim them from the Government
  4. Advice NI Briefing Paper – Universal Credit and Redundancy August 2020
  5. Advice NI’s freephone helpline provides free advice on benefits, debt, business debt, EUSS, Tax Credits & HMRC services call 0800 915 4604.