The Cost of Living Crisis: Citizens Advice Test Valley’s Response to a Growing Need

The cost of living crisis is causing a huge rise in the number of people seeking help from Citizens Advice Test Valley.  “It’s causing daily chaos in people’s lives”, said Chair Stephen Bowden, who led yesterday’s Annual General Meeting for the charity.

He went on “We live in a beautiful and relatively prosperous part of the country [but] many residents have continued to experience extreme difficulty in dealing with the pressures that massive increases in accommodation costs and food and fuel prices have heaped upon them”.

With its 60 or so paid and volunteer staff working from offices in Romsey Town Centre and Andover’s Chantry Centre, plus Outreaches at Whitchurch and the Romsey and Andover Foodbanks, the charity saw 4,290 people about 11,419 issues in the year to March 2023.  Its work made a huge difference to lives under pressure, gaining nearly £350,000 for clients in unclaimed benefits or by helping them have debts written off.

The current year is not seeing any let-up in the number of clients and the multiple issues they typically bring.  So far, it has seen a near 30% increase in demand for its services over the same period in the previous year, itself one of record demand.  Most clients are helped via email or phone but many also come into the offices for face-to-face meetings with advisers.

Citizens Advice Test Valley is a registered charity, formed in 2014 when the previously separate Romsey and Andover offices came together, whose remit is to provide a first-class free advocacy and advice service to the residents of Test Valley.  Helping the people of Test Valley overcome their everyday problems of debt, housing issues, employment rights and family breakdown.  It does so with the encouragement and substantial financial backing, by way of discretionary

grant funding, of Test Valley Borough Council.

For further information please check their website or for advice phone 0808 812 6681