Inflation and the cost of living – impacts on the sector 

We had another fantastic forum meeting in November, with the theme of the impact of inflation in the sector and the cost of living crisis.  

Our guest speakers included:  

Jon Franklin and Jamie O’Halloran from Pro Bono Economics 

Michelle Rose from London Citizens Advice 

Ruthba Amin from Citizens Advice Redbridge  

Florence Acen from Citizens Advice East End 

And Nat Jordan from City Bridge Trust.  

Cost pressures for advice agencies 

There were some key findings shared from Pro Bono Economics around the impact of the cost of living crisis and rising cost pressures on advice agencies. One of the main observations was an increase in demand for debt advice services, which have seen a 30% increase between 2020-2022. Moreover, figures show that household debt is at the highest it’s been since 2009, and living standards are expected to fall by around 7% by the start of 2024. 

In terms of inflation, based on average reserves from pre-pandemic data, it was suggested that for charities with an income of half a million (£500,000) whose costs rise with inflation, will need increase their reserves by an additional £30,000 to ensure that they are not worse off. Furthermore, staff costs also rise as inflation rises, meaning that in real terms, pay brackets decrease in value. This is worrying news for the advice sector, which is already facing a staffing deficit. 

Rising costs will also have repercussions for charities in relation to service delivery and measurable outcomes. The way in which reporting on key delivery metrics is being done may need to be reassessed in response to the needs of charities and their increasing pressures.  

You can read more on these points here. 

Cost of Living Advice Project  

This is a partnership between the Greater London Authority (GLA), London Legal Support Trust (LLST) and London Citizens Advice (LCA) network, with one-year of GLA funding. The project aims to increase advisor capacity and support warm referral relationships between Citizens Advice, Centres of Excellence, and community organisations to respond to the needs of Londoners. 

There are different frontline roles being funded through this project including Crisis Prevention Advisors, and Specialist Caseworkers. Another element of the project includes upskilling community groups through Advice First Aid (AFA). 

Funded organisations from London Citizen’s Advice include 16 delivery LCAs identified as experiencing the highest demands with limited advisor capacity, while funded organisations on the LLST side of the project include 21 delivery organisations; 18 specialist free legal advice agencies and 3 community organisations. You can find out more about the LLST side of the project here. 

The main aim of this project is to help support Londoners who need advice in light of the cost of living crisis. Is hoped that partnership working will make access to services easier by working directly with local communities to make people aware of services and support available to them. 

Propel Funding update 

We are proud to be working with many funders under Propel, a long-term funding initiative supported by London Funders that aims to tackle root causes of inequality. In line with London Recovery Board missions, Propel is focused on three main funding areas: A New Deal for Young People, Building Stronger Communities, and Robust Safety Net. LLST’s focus, together with some London funders, is on the Robust Safety Net, which is looking at workforce development within the advice sector.   

Applications closed in December, and are currently being reviewed.  

You can find more information on this collaborative project here. 

You can watch the full recording of the forum here.