We’ve just published our annual statistics, showing the number of people across England and Wales we helped find a way forward in 2020/21. It was, as everyone knows, a difficult and strange year. Our numbers reflect that.

Our busiest year ever?

If you look at the whole Citizens Advice service, including the website, the telephone lines, our web chat and web forms, all the different services we run, you could say we’ve never been busier. The online self-help advice on our website was viewed more times than ever before last year, with page views increasing from 54 million to over 60.5 million.

Last month at Citizens Advice we published a report analysing our data trends from the last year. From March 1 2020 to Feb 28 2021, we helped over 2 million people with our 1 to 1 advice, despite closing our face to face service for pretty much that whole year. We also had a record 62.8m views of our online advice content. Putting that all together, it was our busiest year ever.

When we use our data to talk about the service, the first thing to do is talk about how many people came to us for advice. We then…

For years now, Citizens Advice have published an annual Impact report, showing how our advice work makes a difference in people’s lives. It covers all our different services — how many problems we solved, how much our work saved the public purse and put back into people’s pockets. We’re really proud of the impact we make and the steps we take to ensure we’re measuring it correctly.

But Citizens Advice actually has two aims as an organisation — to give advice to people who need it and to advocate for change. …

Since Citizens Advice moved to remote working in March, we’ve changed the way we work with and talk about our data. The organisation has had to make huge changes to the way we operate. We’ve moved all our advice out of face to face settings and into advisors’ homes. People right across the service need access to data on a daily basis to help them make any number of decisions.

In response, we’ve moved away from quarterly updates and ad hoc requests and towards something more nimble and shareable.

January is always a busy time of year at Citizens Advice, but this January has been a little different

On the busiest days for debt advice in the last 3 years, someone sought help from Citizens Advice every 10 seconds. Over these years, our busiest days have all fallen in the final week of January. It’s a regular pattern. That’s how we knew to tell Sky News to go to Citizens Advice Manchester, one of our biggest local services, earlier this week to see how they deal with the busiest time of year for debt advice.

It’s not just our face-to-face services that deal with increased demand in January. Our website sees many more hits too. …

We’ve been publishing an annual impact report for 5 years. The most recent one showed that we’re solving more problems than ever, and that our reach, driven by our website, has never been bigger.

It’s essential that our impact work is credible. We use an externally validated model, we make sure we don’t overclaim, we even discount our calculations to take account of our own biases. This is really important as the numbers we talk about are pretty huge. We save the public purse over £400m a year and we generate value for our clients of £12 for each pound…

We’re helping more people solve more problems

Today we published our full year stats for 2018/19. It was a big year for Citizens Advice — and the numbers show it.

We help millions of people every year. Last year, this included:

  • 28,500,000 visits to our website
  • 1,273,000 people helped face to face
  • 867,000 people using our phone service
  • 557,000 people calling our consumer helpline
  • 287,000 people getting help by email or webchat
  • 127,000 witnesses through the Witness Service

The numbers are a credit to the amazing work of our network of local charities and the volunteers and staff who run them. …

To truly understand the problems people are facing we need to understand our data

Every year, visits to our website help give millions of people the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward.

The numbers are pretty staggering — as I write this, there are 1,200 people on the site. Yesterday, our page for checking if you’re eligible for Universal Credit was viewed 5,600 times. Last week, our content on employment rights got almost a quarter of a million page views.

So that we can truly understand the problems people are facing, it’s really important we can interpret and understand this data.

That’s why we’re working to help make these huge…

What our data tells us about the rise in demand for advice in January

The new year is always one of the busiest times for Citizens Advice. Last month, our local offices saw 187,000 people face-to-face, on the phone and over webchat. There were 10 times that number of visitors to our website — 1.9 million over the course of the month. So why do so many people get in touch once we’ve put New Year’s Day in the rearview?

We’re always busy early in the new year. Our numbers dip in December and rise in January, with another spike in March at the end of the financial year. Some of the explanation for…

(in less than 3 minutes)

Today the ONS published its yearly pay statistics for the UK — the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

It’s a good news story: weekly earnings for full time workers rose by 2.2%.

But in my video blog I outline 3 things we need to bear in mind as we look at these numbers. (Hint: inflation, rising self employment, insecure incomes).

Tom MacInnes

Head of Data at Citizens Advice

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