Citizens Advice sees rise in housing queries

CITIZENS Advice Guernsey has dealt with more than 8,000 queries so far this year and expects demand to keep on rising.

Citizens Advice Guernsey CEO Kerry Ciotti.
Citizens Advice Guernsey CEO Kerry Ciotti.

The increasing complexity of people’s lives, concerns, and enquiries as well as the rising cost of living, has led to people needing more help, said CEO Kerry Ciotti.

The charity provides free and confidential advice to people in the community using volunteer trained advisers. Information and advice is offered on almost any subject. It also offers specialist money advisers to help clients budget, negotiate, or deal with debt. Since January it has dealt with 8,610 client enquiries.

‘The general feeling among advisers is that we’re dealing with a lot of housing concerns this year,’ Mrs Ciotti said.

‘More people are finding it difficult to pay rent and buy homes. The prices have gone up because of demand and I don’t see that changing any time soon.’

In 2020, housing concerns made up 17% of all enquires to Citizens Advice. So far this year, housing concerns have made up 21% of all enquiries.

Mrs Ciotti said enquiries about family issues have always been high, and this year has seen a further 2% increase, which she said was down to the complexity of modern life.

In addition to advice services, the charity also works to influence social policy with its anonymised data.

‘The best way to tackle any problem is at its source, treating causes rather than symptoms. It saves people from suffering the same problems over and over again,’ it said.

‘We have a large amount of data on the problems experienced by local people, and we use these anonymous statistics to influence policymakers within the States and other organisations in their decisions.’

Currently, Mrs Ciotti said the charity was focused on influencing the States to implement lasting power of attorney – a law which would allow mentally-sound individuals to designate a person of their choosing to act on their behalf following a loss of competency.

Another area of concern was job security and employee rights in the first year of employment, and protection for tenants and deposits.

She would also like to see a tenancy deposit protection scheme put in place to safeguard both renters and landlords.

Mrs Ciotti said Guernsey was behind both Jersey and the UK on tenancy deposits. She hoped the data and pressure from Citizens Advice would eventually put the island on a par.

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