Citizens Advice South Essex have moved their face-to-face services to telephone or online support in a bid to avoid spreading coronavirus.

The advice service, which covers Basildon, Billericay, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rayleigh, Rochford, Thurrock and Wickford, has mobilised its volunteers and staff to help meet the unprecedented challenges that residents may be facing.

People who have already booked appointments should not attend and should contact Citizens Advice South Essex on 01268 911028.

General advice will be given via their adviceline which people can reach by calling 0300 330 2101. This is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Anyone seeking support to make a new claim for Universal Credit should call the Universal Credit Help to Claim line on 0800 1448444.

The Money Adviceline numbers are 01268 911024 and 01277 358082. This is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

People can also chat online to an advisor by visiting their website at

People looking for advice on consumer issues (e.g. issues related to products or services you've purchased) can contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or chat online to an advisor on the company's website.

Waiting times for these services may be slightly longer than usual as staff adapt to their new way of working.

Kathy Kentish, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice South Essex, said: “Citizens Advice is here to give people the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward in these difficult times. You can find frequently updated advice on a range of issues related to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak at

“Unfortunately, we have taken the decision to suspend face-to-face services for the foreseeable future to support the government’s latest guidelines.

“We’ll continue to offer advice over the telephone on our adviceline. People looking for advice can also chat to an advisor online at the Citizens Advice website.

“We are looking into other ways in which we can help people to get the advice that they need during this period.”

Citizens Advice says last week was the busiest ever for its website, with over 2.2 million views.

The charity said it has seen record-breaking demand for advice since the escalation of the coronavirus outbreak, with the highest daily number of visitors to its website being topped four times last week.

The number of page views across last week was up by 50% compared with the same time last year.

Page view numbers in a single day peaked on Thursday March 19 at 390,000, a 70% increase on the previous Thursday which was already higher than usual.

Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "We are living in an extraordinary time and it's important people know they're not alone. We're here to help in this time of national crisis."