Skip to content Skip to footer

Civil society, data insights, exciting plan: Annual Conference online.


Civil society is the institutions, people and beliefs that aren’t public or private, government or business. A positive report by our research team in a second Conference 2024 blog.
By Research and Campaigns Team, Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell (4 minutes)

The ‘Third Sector’ covers many kinds of organisations. Most important for Matt Whittaker, CEO at think-tank Pro Bono Economics (PBE), are charities.

Matt was a speaker at the Data Insights session of online day at the CA Annual Conference*. PBE believes charities are ‘undervalued, overlooked and under-utilised’. Charity staff, trustees and volunteers across the country will recognise the analysis.


For many reasons, not least the cost crisis, the sector is under real pressure. Indeed, at the same event, Clare Moriarty, CA CEO, set out her concerns. Local Citizens Advice face budget issues, more clients with more intractable problems and more difficulty recruiting volunteers and staff.

According to Matt Whittaker, however, there are reasons to be cheerful.

PBE research reveals the true economic potential of the charity sector properly understood and utilised. They are in touch with politicians of all parties and believe the message is gaining ground. Significantly PBE exists ‘to use economic analysis…. to end low personal wellbeing in the United Kingdom’. Releasing harnessing the potential would come through building charities’ already immense contribution to personal well-being in every community.

Information success

Citizens Advice has been recording client cost-of-living issues since 2014: debt, crisis support, homelessness, utility bills, council tax. Ten years’ careful record-keeping lie behind what is now an invaluable update on a key aspect of national life. In the hands of clever digital natives at the centre, our data is the basis of the strongest ever CA policy voice.

Read about Annual Conference Audience Day in our first Conference CAEE Blog: At Conference Vicki learned about advice innovations and met a shark!

Data Insights is now two years old. Born with the cost-of-living crisis, it has grown into a public information success. It comes with a blizzard of statistics and access to a mass of interactive data. This month we picked out issues with Council Tax. Across the network, including Epsom & Ewell, the local tax accounts for some of the biggest client problems.

Average household debt has reached a frightening £1700 (and that’s before this month’s above-inflation rise). Under budget pressure themselves, councils must of course maximise collection. But dialogue (ideally involving Citizens Advice or another support charity) ahead of payment enforcement is usually in everyone’s interest.   

Brand new

Citizens Advice supporters may be interested in the charity’s fresh approach to realising the opportunity identified by Pro Bono Economics. Market research shows that wide awareness is not necessarily translating into deeper engagement. A new brand plan unveiled at Conference aims to move us from ‘well-known’ to ‘much-loved’.

Despite the marketing-speak the plan looks genuinely exciting. There’s a new video, messages for different audiences, new support for Local Citizens Advice. And a brand new Big Idea: ‘We are Citizens Advice: The people’s champion’.

Data Insights 2
Watch back April Data Insights online. Also more about May (Is the cost-of-living crisis over?) and June (Everyday Inequality: Gender, with Jess Philips). Everyone welcome.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on the Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" then you are consenting to this.