Citizens Advice Ipswich braces itself for the Spring Budget announcement and its impact on clients


Citizens Advice Ipswich braces itself for the Spring Budget announcement and its impact on clients

Citizens Advice Ipswich and other community support organisations are anxiously awaiting the Government’s Spring Budget set for 6 March to discover the future of the Household Support Fund which has supported thousands of households across Suffolk with food, fuel and other essential items. 

This fund has been a vital resource to prevent low-income families slide further into debt as they struggle to make ends meet through the cost of living crisis.

Councils across the UK have been allocated money from the Household Support Fund to support their residents with essentials such as food, energy bills and clothing, based on their local need. In Suffolk over £10 million has been distributed to households by local councils and voluntary agencies on their behalf.

A recent national report by Citizens Advice has revealed that many households in and around Ipswich are having to live with unmanageable debt which is increasing at an alarming rate. 

Chief Executive Officer at Citizens Advice Ipswich, Nicky Willshere, said:

“Our big concern for our clients at this time is the prospect that the Government might bring an end to the Household Support Fund which has been helping households with food, fuel, essential items, delivered by the local councils and the voluntary agencies across Suffolk to the tune of over £10 million in the past year.

“Without this fund, families will not be living on empty, they will simply sink to levels not seen before.

“The number of people in the Ipswich area who simply cannot claw their way out of debt because of rising costs of food, fuel and housing that mean their wages simply do not cover the basics is shockingly high. And what shocks me most is that it gets higher every month.

“In the last year our advisers have seen an increase in food bank applications of around 50%, a doubling of clients needing help to apply for charitable grants and over four times as many fuel voucher requests.

“Our advisers are supporting clients to ensure their employers are paying them at the correct rate, to make savings where at all possible and to make claims for all available state help to which they are entitled.

“But for many this will still not be enough for them to be able to pay rent, heat their homes and provide nourishing food for their households. 

In 2023, our annual review of how we are doing revealed, for the first time ever, that ‘Charitable Support and Food Banks’ was the issue most frequently recorded by our advisers for clients coming to us for help.”

Citizens Advice Ipswich’s specialist debt team report that almost 90% of clients whose finances are assessed, are living with a “negative budget” by which we mean that every month client’s costs will always outstrip their inadequate income.  Negative budgets mean that clients cannot be supported through a debt recovery process because their problems are insurmountable and growing every month.

As part of the Living on Empty campaign from Citizens Advice, the recently launched report – National Red Index – has revealed the startling reality that nearly 5 million people across the country are living on a negative budget. This means that every month the money coming into households from wages and benefits is not enough to cover the essentials of living.